The Western Cape Department of Local Government presented its Annual Report for 2017/18. The Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Developmental Planning expressed his appreciation for the cooperation between the various spheres of government and sectors in addressing the drought challenge that the Western Cape Province had experienced.
The year under review had been extremely challenging and difficult for the entire Department as disasters such as the drought in the province had significantly affected its capacity. It had 82 goals for the year and 77 had been achieved. It had provided support to its municipalities, and 21 of the 30 municipalities had received clean audits.
The Department highlighted its achievements. These included the training of councillors, the Thusong Centre programme performance, the translation of the ward committee handbook into Braille, its administrative and legal support to municipalities, the smoke alarm pilot programme, the development of the drought risk atlas, and two previously distressed municipalities graduating from the “Back to Basics” (B2B) programme. It was developing plans to address droughts in the future, adjusting its water plans and carrying out various research initiatives so that the Department could be proactive, resilient and sustainable.
The Members asked questions about how the R974 million allocated by the national government had been spent, the distribution and usage of the Braille handbook, non-compliance involved in the appointment of senior managers in municipalities, the Department’s under-expenditure of R15.6 million, the status of investigations on fraud and maladministration in municipalities, and the organisational structure of the Department.
Concerns were raised about how long the Department took to fill vacancies, the limited hours that the Thusong Centres were open for use by the community, the transfer of funds to municipalities in the last quarter of the financial year, the value of the Community Development Worker (CDW) programme, the functionality of ward committees, and the extent of the Department’s efforts to promote inclusivity, especially in terms of land.
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister, Members and officials. He congratulated the Minister and the Head of Department on the annual report, as well as for achieving a clean audit.
Minister’s opening remarks
Mr Anton Bredell, Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Western Cape Provincial Parliament (WCPP), said that a year ago the province’s dams were 36% full and had dropped to 16%, but fortunately there were good winter rains which had led to the dams being 57% full. He wanted to thank everyone who had helped save water and managed the systems, as every little bit mattered.
At the beginning stages of the drought, there was a lot of blame but as things progressed there was a lot of joint work and cooperation to address the challenge. The drought had had a big impact on the economy, especially the agricultural sector, which had a long-term impact as it could not just recover in a year or two.
On the technical front, the Department would continue to support the province’s municipalities and building capacity, as the water system could not be changed overnight. Government had to plan better and consider population growth when developing water systems.
He congratulated the Department’s team, especially disaster management, as well everyone that had helped with the plans. He thanked national government for its allocation of R974 million to the province.
The Department was grateful for the raising of the level of the Clanwilliam Dam wall.
The year under review was the first full year of governance after the 2016 local government elections. The councils had been provided with ongoing training to ensure that they were better able to perform their duties. These training initiatives were done in partnership with institutions like the University of Stellenbosch and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).
The Thusong Centre programme continued to be developed as the hub for poverty reduction, job creation and broad-based community development. For the year under review, 1.3 million government services and information were accessed by citizens through the Thusong centres. The centres planted a seed of hope in communities, especially in rural areas. At the end of the financial year, the Thusong centre’s community development programme had provided support to 70 small scale initiatives which aimed at providing access to current economic opportunities across the province.
For the year under review ,the Ward Committee Handbook was translated into Braille and all three official languages of the Western Cape, which the Department was very proud of. These handbooks were also made available to other provinces and were in all the libraries.
On informal settlements, one of the big issues was fires. Veld fires had been addressed, but fires in informal settlements remained a concern. One of the contributors was the construction of informal settlements and the Department’s reaction time to fires. Smoke alarms were a useful mechanism that had to be further developed to aid controlling fires. Municipalities needed support to get smoke alarms in informal settlements, as smoke alarms needed to be installed in all the units of informal settlements.
For the 2016 local government elections, the Department provided on-going administrative and legal assistance to municipalities, as well as the appointment of senior managers. The Department assessed the compliance of senior manager appointment processes with the relevant legislative prescripts. New legislation would put a bigger burden on the Department, as contracts would not be able to be signed off by municipalities unless the Department had signed the applications off first.
On corruption in some councils, he said that the Hawks had been sent in, charges had been laid and the processes were on-going.
The Department had provided support to councillors to allow them to effectively fulfill their roles and responsibilities. One such support initiative was the councillor training programme in which 395 councillors had participated.
Mr Bredell said the Department had also enhanced public participation and strengthening of the interface between communities and municipalities. Various initiatives, including the establishment of formal structures such as ward committees, were implemented to insitutionalise public participation in municipalities. There had to be a larger emphasis on community interaction in the future.
The Department had started specific education programmes on public participation with the aim of educating and empowering citizens with information that would enable them to participate meaningfully in the affairs of local government. He said that it was an important initiative and hoped that the Committee would support it.
On the Back to Basics (B2B) programme, there had been work done and the Department was able to get some municipalities out of the B2B programme.
The Department had about 82 goals for the year, and 77 had been achieved. It had managed to support its municipalities, and out of 30 municipalities 21 had received clean audits. Clean audits were not only because of service delivery, but financial management as well.
The Department would continue to implement a long-term water approach to ensure resilience of the province, given the predicament of climate change’s impact. The theme of resilience and sustainability would become more important going forward for the Department as well as other departments, as provision had to be made for the future.
The Provincial Disaster Management Centre had developed the drought risk atlas, which was a web-based tool containing a variety of data sets relevant to droughts. The Department believed it would make a big difference moving forward.
Head of Department: Opening remarks
Mr Graham Paulse, Head of Department (HOD), Department of Local Government (DLG), said the year under review had been extremely challenging and difficult for the entire Department. The disasters in the province had significantly affected its capacity. It had to balance its efforts, energy and budgets in relation to the drought and ensure no towns ran out of water, as well as meet annual performance plan (APP) targets.
He gave thanks to the entire team for their commitment, as the Department had achieved most of its deliverables, with some of them being over achieved and others partly achieved.
Mr N Hinana (DA) congratulated the Department for its achievements especially on the drought. He asked about the failure to get financial assistance from the national Department, and what had been done by national government, as it was their duty to support provinces. He wanted to know how much money was given to each municipality for building dams. Was there anything being done to improve the capacity of all the dams across the province?
He referred to the complaints Committee Members had received from communities about the roles of municipalities and councilors, and how this was something that also contributed to protest marches. He said many people who protest were concerned about the role of municipalities and the failure of the councillors to inform them about the issues of service delivery. Based on these complaints, he asked what information the Department had conveyed to the communities, and if councillors knew what was happening. The communities wanted to know what the budgets allocated for improving the standard of living in their communities were. It was the responsibility of the municipalities and councillors to keep communities informed and provide information. He requested that the information be provided to communities.
Mr T Simmers (DA) said it was not an easy task for the Department to achieve clean audits, especially in the existing fiscal environment. He was concerned about the lack of drought planning for the eastern region of the province, more specifically the central Karoo. In the year under review, the Department visited Kannaland, Oudtshoorn and Beaufort West, where the water shortage was becoming a massive concern. Some of these areas were facing the worst drought in more than 70 years.
He followed up on a question he asked the Minister earlier in the year about water plans and when municipalities had started to update water plans, as government had to become proactive not reactive. Given the reality of climate change and that most of the central Karoo municipalities were reactive and not proactive, how would the Department assist them in future, because capacity was one of the issues that municipalities could not review in their water plans?
He said exceptional cases of non-compliance in senior management appointments in municipalities had been highlighted, but wanted to know if there were exceptional cases within the “grey area” that existed in certain legislation, where councils sought to deviate from their own processes, using legal methods to persuade the Department to sign off on senior managers and directors being appointed, which was contradictory to the outcomes of their own processes.
Mr Q Dyantyi (ANC) said that before he asked questions, he wanted to a create a context, and congratulated the Minister on the Department’s performance compared to the last annual report. He asked the Minister to share one thing he had done very well and three things that were challenges during his 10-year period as Minister.
On the Minister’s statement that a collective effort had yielded results in the water crisis, he said he hoped the reference was not referring to the role of Mmusi Maimane, who wanted to be Premier.
On the community councils as enablers for how service delivery happens in municipalities, he asked if this remained the case in the context of a water crisis. He did not see municipalities as enablers.
The report had referred to “practice notes,” but there was only one practice note. He asked for clarity on the contents of the practice note, and if it was worth the money spent on it.
The Braille handbook version was an important achievement. He asked how it had been distributed and if it was being used, or if it was produced without research. Had the level of demand for it been quantified?
On the success in the call to save water, he said many communities in Cape Town remained burdened by huge debt, partly due to the high-water tariffs.
He asked the Department to elaborate on the R900 million received from national Government for the drought.
On the smoke alarms in informal settlements, he asked if any research had been done on their use in formal settlements. What was the cost of smoke alarms?
He asked the HOD for examples of cases of non-compliance related to the appointment of senior managers in municipalities, as it was not mentioned in the report.
On the 395 councillors trained, he asked if these numbers had been based since the councillors had been elected, or just the period under review.
Additionally, on the non-compliance cases, he asked if the Cape-Winelands District had been part of them, as specific issues had been raised concerning that district before.
The R15 million under expenditure was the highest amount ever presented by the Minister, compared to previous APPs. He was concerned at the high amount being unspent, especially in the context of a drought, and requested elaboration on the matter.
What was the reason for the disposal of assets and other financial transactions which led to the over collection of R1 million?
Was the high under expenditure something the Department could not foresee? If they did foresee it, what was its action plan?
The Chairperson asked how many copies of the Braille handbook were printed, and if the distribution covered the entire province or only certain areas.
On the smoke alarms, he asked if there was a deliberate intention to get municipalities and the private sector to buy-in to the programme.
The Minister said it was always good to see clean audits and it was important that every single department did its bit to for disabled persons, which was the intention with the Braille handbook translation. Sometimes the government wanted to do so much research that end products were never created, but the Department had gone ahead with the Braille translation. It had been put in each library in the province, and had also been showcased on various platforms to create awareness. The national Department was busy distributing it nationally. Someone in the Department might have information on its usage.
Regarding the drought’s financial assessment, he did not want to make it a political debate, but the Department of Water Affairs was in serious financial trouble. It was therefore important that the national, provincial and local government Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) were aligned so that money was spent collectively on issues to alleviate poverty.
He said there was bulk problem. The Department had started the water plan in 2012, but in hindsight a mistake had been made, as the baseline had been the year 2011, but there had also been very low rainfall, which no one could predict. In the future, institutions would need to learn to manage droughts.
The Clanwilliam Dam was an example of planning for the future, as it would support agricultural and household use. The Department was also finalising processes for the Brandvlei Dam to expand its capacity. The expansion of the capacity would speak to both food and water security in the surrounding areas.
On the roles of municipalities and councillors, he said it was an on-going battle, as new councillors were elected every five years.
From the Department’s side, communication with communities and community participation was very important. Communities had to be encouraged to participate more in the municipal domain and attend meetings. There had to be research into technological innovations that allowed communication and interaction by communities without them having to make time for meetings in the evening after work. This was where the development of an interactive application (app) would play a role in aiding participation. Councillors and municipalities had to be aware of their role to make this a success.
In response to Mr Simmers, he said the water in the eastern region was part of the plan, but the Department had to get the baselines ready because in some instances calculations had to consider water loss and the need for maintenance. Beaufort West had enough water, but it was its management that led to issues, so the Department needed to understand where to put its resources. It was crucial to address the Oudtshoorn and Kannaland water system challenges.
The 2012 water plan had been a provincial plan, but the new plan had to be one that integrated all three spheres of government. Water was the current crisis, but the next one would be waste -- and that was why the Department was always in a stage of playing catch up. Municipalities had to understand the importance of building resilient and sustainable cities.
In response to Mr Dyanti’s questions about his achievements, he said he was politician who wanted to serve the community. One of the biggest successes was the great team he would be leaving behind.
On the failures, he said he would rather talk about matters that could have been done better, such as a more open debate on a political dispensation that served the communities better, and debating the executive mayoral system after 20 years. He asked that the Committee have this debate.
There had been a bad run on local government department national ministers, to the extent that there had been six national ministers in seven years, which spoke to continuity.
There was a new financial model for local government that spoke to powers and functions that was on the table.
On the water situation in Cape Town, he said it might appear that the Department had not done well, but from his perspective he believed it had done well. It was easy to cave in under pressure and buy into white elephants that addressed water issues in the short term and not the long term, but the Department had to stick to its water plans, as it was about water and food security in the long term.
The R974 million given to the province had been for storms, droughts and fires throughout the last year. Currently the Department was dealing with seven disasters and their aftermaths. For example, even though the Knysna fires were a year ago, clean up work was still being done. The Department could provide a list of all the projects and how the money received was being spent.
The cost of smoke alarms was approximately R160. There were cheaper models, but this one had been researched for three years and had a battery life of around 10 years, which was better than the cheaper ones. It was important that the smoke alarms landed in informal settlements, and the formal settlements had to be tackled with the inclusion of smoking alarms, making it compulsory in new building plans.
Efforts had been made to promote the Braille handbook on various occasions, and there was a stall where it had been promoted to councillors and mayors at councillors’ training, but the Department would make sure that there was more buy-in.
Mr Paulse said the Department was concerned with the under-spending of R15.6 million. There had been under-spending because there was earmarked funding for fires, and because there were not that many fires in the last season, besides the Knysna fires, there had been a saving of about R6.8 million. In the previous year, there were between 17 000 and 22 000 fires, and the money had been spent. The funds had been handed over to the Provincial Treasury (PT), but the Department was in the process of negotiating to get the money back. In principle, the PT had agreed to return the money so that the money could be part of a combined budget for aero fire-fighting costing in the region of R10 million.
Additionally, an ongoing project had been developed in relation to a framework for intervention in municipalities done by an academic institution, which had been costed at about R500 000, and it was being negotiated to get it back from PT.
There was R3.4 million for drought, and the Department was in discussion with PT to get these funds back for the adjustment budget process.
There was also under-spending in the region of R3 million for compensation of employment (COE). The Department would mention vacant posts, posts advertisements and reasons for them not being filled later on in the meeting.
The composition of the staff had fundamentally changed, as people were more mobile. Some of the vacant posts had been advertised a few times. Recently a post that had been advertised and at the final stage the individual had asked for a higher salary, but because of the highly regulated nature of human resources (HR) in government, this could not happen. These were the kind of challenges the Department faced in terms of HR and filling positions.
On the non-compliance of senior managers, municipalities were required in terms of regulations to get the support of the Minister for appointments of senior managers. At times, given the Department’s internal assessments concluded that there was substantive or procedural non-compliance, the Minister would be consulted and then the municipalities would be written to. It had happened that both substantive and procedural compliance were not met, and the Minister had asked municipalities to set aside those appointments. Cederberg and Kannaland municipality were cases where non-compliance had happened, and the Minister had asked appointments to be set aside. It was an extensive process that required due diligence, and the Department worked with the national Department on the matter as well. It had the details related to non-compliance cases if the Chairperson wanted it to be made available.
On the 395 councillors, he said the number was for the period under review. There were more councillors than that, but the City of Cape Town provided in house training with its own resources, so they were not necessarily included in this case.
The drought crisis had caused the Department to work closely with the national Department of Water and Sanitation, which did not have the required funding until R6.8 billion was tabled by the then Minister, Malusi Gigaba. The Department had made two applications and an amount of almost R1 billion had been allocated to the Province. The details of this would be discussed later in the meeting.
On dams and capacity, the Department had had extensive discussions with the national Department around building additional dams in the province. The appetite to build additional dams was not necessarily there, but there was some consideration given to expanding the capacity of existing dams.
The entire Department was monitoring the water situation in the eastern region of the province, and contingency measures were being put in place to help those municipalities with water management. The region was a summer rainfall area, but weather services had indicated it had had a below average rainfall during the summer.
In addition, the Oudtshoorn municipality had received R30 million from the national Department for the Blossom Project, in order to relay water from their reservoir.
Ms Jacqueline Pandaram, Director: Disaster Management, Western Cape DLG, referred to the R974 million allocation, and said the Province had received four allocations since August 2017 through the National Disaster Management Centre. The first allocation was R74.8 million which had gone to the Department of Agriculture, the City of Cape Town, and the Bitou and Theewaterskloof municipalities.
The second allocation was in March 2018, with funding allocated to Cederburg, Matzikama, Drakensburg, Robertson and the City of Cape Town, amounting to R164.9 million. The third allocation was towards agriculture in June 2018, for an amount of R38 million.
The municipalities that received funding through the first and second allocations were mostly for ground water augmentation projects. For the first, second and third allocations, an amount of R277.7 million had been received. The fourth and most recent allocation included R86.3 million was for the Knysna fires, as well as for storms and droughts, R25.8 million for the Department of Education, R1.3 million for the Department of Agriculture, R127 000 for Human Settlements, R54.5 million for the national Department of Environmental Affairs, and two municipalities had received R4.5 million .
For the drought, an amount of R887.5 million had been allocated and received through the national Department of Water and Sanitation, R28.9 million for the Theewaterskloof Emergency Programme, R30 million for Oudtshoorn municipality for the Blossom Project, the National Department of Environmental Affairs R63.6 million, R41.9 million for agriculture through the Land Care Programme for fencing, irrigation and alien plant clearing, R170 million for livestock farmers, and R553 million for the City of Cape Town for water augmentation in the Cape Flats and Atlantis, as well as the Table Mountain aquifer. In total, from August 2017 up to date, the Province had received an amount of R1.2 billion, of which R1.165 million was specifically for drought.
The HOD asked the officials to mention the funds that the provincial government and the provincial Department had also prioritised for the drought.
Mr Marius Brand, Director: Municipal Infrastructure, Western Cape DLG, said based on an assessment done by the Department’s professional engineers, municipalities had been categorised into high, medium and low risk, based on the findings of the geologists as well as the technical services of engineers. A total of R105 million had been transferred to projects that had been identified.
Mr Dyanti asked when the R800 million had been received, as saying “recently” was too vague.
Ms Pandaram said it was announced on 4 October.
Mr Dyanti asked if it was not the R86 million that was received on 4 October.
Mr Paulse said there was a rigorous process where the Department had to bid, and on 4 October the amount of the allocation was confirmed for the province and based on that, the money would flow in the adjustment budget process. Some of the other funding had already been provided prior to this date.
Mr Dyanti said from August 2017 to date, R1.2 billion had been allocated and committed to the province. This meant that more money was coming to the province to help with the situation, but R3.4 million could not even be spent on drought, unlike the fire which was earmarked, and there had been no fire but there was drought. The bulk of the R1.2 billion would be for the drought, and the question was whether the Department had the capacity to respond to these emergencies, because then the issue was not the money, because if the problem was the money the R3.4 million would have been spent. He asked where the problem was if it was not the money. He asked for further information on the under-expenditure due to the decreased number of fires in the season.
Mr Simmers referred to the non-compliance of municipalities in getting the support of the Minister for appointments of senior managers, and asked why there were exceptional cases. He would give an example without mentioning the municipality’s name. The case had happened in April and in August the Department had had to retract a letter the Minister wrote to the specific municipality regarding a specific director that was appointed, which stated it had not adhered to regulations. However, on 8 August the Department had had to retract the letter. This was why he had asked the specific question, and hoped that it was now put into better context.
The Chairperson said this was a discussion on the annual report, and some of the specifics had been addressed through this exercise. However, the Minister had mentioned that some municipalities had been taken away from the B2B programme, and wanted to know how many were no longer in the programme.
Referring to corruption, he said municipalities were currently being pursued by the Hawks for actions that were peculiar to the Municipal Financial Management Act (MFMA), and there had been rulings, for instance in Oudtshoorn, where a mayor had been sentenced. What were the specifics of the municipalities that were still being pursued by the Hawks? How far were the Hawks in dealing with the cases and was the Department satisfied?
Mr Dyanti said the Minister had mentioned 8 000 smoke alarms at R160, which meant roughly R1.2 million had been spent on the programme, and he wanted to know if there was a list of the areas that had smoke alarms. Smoke alarms provided great value in saving lives, but it remained that the cost the alarms had to be considered.
Mr Paulse said the first part of the earmarked savings was for compensation so that staff could be appointed, as the Department needed communication staff to help with awareness campaigns, risk and disaster management staff, engineers and staff that dealt with infrastructure. This was why the Department was in negotiation with PT to get the money back. It did not mean the money was not spent in the year under review, but subsequently the staff had been appointed and that was why the Department was asking for the money back from the PT. The Department had the ability to spend the money and wanted to finalise the return of the money before the end of the budget adjustment process.
There were a number of investigations in municipalities due to allegations of fraud and maladministration, and some had been referred to the Hawks. The Hawks had completed their investigations and handed the cases over to the National Prosecuting Agency (NPA). In the case of Kannaland and Oudtshoorn, the matter had been handed over to the NPA, and there were about seven matters in relation to George that had been handed over as well.
He had personally interacted with some of the warrant officers that had investigated, and it was confirmed that the matters had been handed to the NPA. Last week he had met with the chairperson of the Hawks in the Province and the Department had written a letter to ask for progress on the matters. The NPA had indicated that it had capacity challenges, but would attend to the matters as soon as possible. The challenge with the matter was that the Hawks had investigated, but the report could not be taken to the council as allegations -- it had to go to the NPA and it had to be decided if they wanted to prosecute, then only would charges be laid. Due to this, officials could be dealt with only through a disciplinary process based on allegations, and not be immediately charged.
He had also been with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to discuss their assistance. The SIU had indicated that they investigate a matter and provide the Department with a report before it is handed over to either the police or the Hawks for further investigation and prosecution, but the report could be used and applied to go ahead with disciplinary processes with officials in municipalities.
The Hawks were currently still investigating in certain municipalities such as Beaufort West. It was difficult, as the Department wanted to reach a conclusion on these matters. The Department had the details of the cases and could make them available to the Committee.
Mr Collin Deiner, Chief Director: Disaster Management and Fire Brigade Services, said the Department had started the smoke alarms programme as a pilot project in Wallacedene, Kraaifontein,and since then it had been working to install them in areas in Breede Valley, Witzenberg, Stellenbosch and Drakenstein, Knysna, George, Overstrand, Mossel Bay and Swellendam. There were a lot of areas, and the precise details could be given to the Committee.
The areas were decided on, based on their risk, and the high-risk areas were the ones it wanted to service with smoke alarms first. Requests for assistance were also received from municipalities which might not be high-risk, but the Department did look at the feasibility of the projects.
He agreed with the Minister that it was not a one-size-fits-all case, and the smoke alarms used in informal settlements could not be used in an industrial sort of scenario, as there were sometimes hot processes involved there which would set off false alarms
The Chairperson asked if the latest units that the Department had embarked on were part of the 8 000 issued.
Mr Deiner responded that they were additional units, as it was a new year.
The Chairperson said he had not checked if the target for smoke alarms had been increased in the APP.
Mr Paulse said for this financial year, funding had been allocated for smoke alarms and it would flow into the budget adjustment process.
Ms Eda Barnard, Chief Director: Municipal Performance Monitoring and Support, said the HOD had covered the matters involving the Hawks.
On the B2B, an initial total of 10 municipalities had been identified for the programme, and it had to be acknowledged that in each of these municipalities there were different needs. A diagnostic study was done on each of these municipalities to determine their requirements, and each one of them had a dedicated support plan that spoke to their specific requirements.
Based on where the municipalities were with their requirements, the Department met with them on either a monthly or a quarterly basis. It was important to note that the model used brought all sector departments on board to also provide support to municipalities. The Department had been with these municipalities on this journey for a number of years, and two municipalities had now moved off the programme. This meant that the two municipalities had met their targets and achieved a level of stability and sustainability. These two municipalities also had clean audits and the Department was extremely proud of them, as well as its model for bringing all the sectors together, as well as the municipalities, for their participation. There was another municipality that was anticipated to move off the programme in January, and the Department was working closely with it. This did not mean that the municipalities currently on the programme would be left without support.
The Chairperson asked how many municipalities were still in the programme, and which of those had just graduated from it.
Ms Barnard said when the B2B journey started, 10 municipalities had been identified. Two municipalities -- Cape Agulhas and Swellendam -- had moved off the programme, and the municipality it hoped to move off the programme soon was Oudtshoorn.
Mr Hinana asked how the Department would address the challenge of separate amenities, considering its mandate of integration. What had the Department done to implement this and address the shortage of land and integration?
On the issue of expropriation of land without compensation, communities were facing the challenge of a lack of land and were taking land illegally, yet it was one of the responsibilities of the Department to foster inclusivity. How had the Department fostered inclusivity?
When the Committee visited the Thusong Centres during oversight they became aware that the hours when the centres were open were inadequate, and on weekends they were closed. Communities felt that they could not access the centres due to their limited open hours.
The Committee had previously suggested that the working hours at the Thusong centres had to be more flexible and open on weekends so that communities could access its services. What had the Department done to address this challenge and create greater accessibility for communities?
He asked if there were other municipalities that had been given advice to seek other means for accessing water, such as desalination. Were there any that were undergoing processes in order to utilise desalination? If they were, what municipalities were they? He was concerned about the desalination plant at Monwabisi that seemed to be abandoned, as nothing seemed to be happening there.
Were there other plans for sourcing water, as the Department could not only rely on rain. It seemed that a drought would happen again in the future, and the Department had to look for other methods of sourcing water because of this. What were the plans to mitigate the challenges of droughts prematurely in the future?
Mr Dyanti referred to the organisational structure of the Department, and asked how the structure of three chief directors worked in relation to the three programmes: administration, development planning and local government. The Committee had previously spoken about the Department changing its relational structure, but it appeared that there might not have been much change.
He asked how many boreholes the Department had installed during the period under review and how much they had cost. How many illegal boreholes were there? It was the province’s responsibility to follow up on illegal boreholes.
What additional water sourcing opportunities had the Department discovered?
The document said that “the Department was in the process of reorganising its organisational structure to ensure it aligned to its mandate, and it was anticipated that the process would be completed by 2018/19 financial year”. He said this was the conclusion in the last annual report, so what was the progress if there had been restructuring a year ago.
On the vacancy rate in the Department, why was six months the bench mark to fill a post? He wanted to understand why the process to make appointments took so long.
Regarding the provincial performance indicators, he was interested in the programme impact evaluation report, and asked if the Committee could have a copy of it to see what the outcomes of the evaluation were. The report said there were no changes to planned targets, and he asked if there were really no changes to set targets, because the Department had just spoken about the drought which was not planned. How did the drought not have any impacts on the planned targets? In the report, the significant impact of the drought could be seen on the planned targets. He asked for clarity on the matter.
He wanted to know what the challenges on the code of conduct were.
On the Municipal Public Accounts Committee’s (MPAC’s) assessment, where 10 municipalities were identified, he asked what the criteria were, as well as the outcomes of the assessment. What was investigated in each of the listed municipalities?
Regarding the allegations of fraud and maladministration, he said the targets had been met and asked if the details could be made available
On the report on the assessment of complaints concerning municipalities, he asked if the Department was able to say who had complained, and what had been investigated.
He asked for elaboration on what the “shared internship” was, and about the new social media training programme for the West Coast.
He asked if the report on the number of committee report back meetings convened by councillors in each ward was available, and if the Department could share the key findings. How many ward councillors had convened these meetings?
What five pillars were focused on for the B2B capacity building in municipalities? Who had been mentored in these municipalities?
On the assessment of alignment between performance agreements of section 7 managers against key performance indicators, the target of 60 had been met, but he was interested to know if they had been aligned for the 60 targets and if there had been any gaps.
He asked the Department to elaborate on the review of the executive mayoral system and the local government model.
Which municipalities were being supported to implement indigent policies, and what was the specific indigent relief given by these municipalities?
Mr R Olivier (ANC) asked if the baseline report on the state of governance in municipalities was available. What did it contain?
What was the current state of affairs on the training provided to ward committees in all municipalities? Were all ward committees now functional and operational?
He was interested in a comment made on page 42, which indicated that the Department did not know which municipalities were functional and which were not. He asked for clarity on the matter.
He asked for clarity on the cause and challenge of municipal non-reporting of quarterly municipal performance that was mentioned in the comments.
Mr Simmers referred to public participation, and asked if there had been progress on the app that could be used as a communication channel between citizens and municipalities, and if so, had the app been effective? Had the training of ward committees resulted in an improvement in their role as the link between councillors and communities?
Mr Paulse said the Department had made progress with the organisational redesign, and there had been extensive engagements with the organisational review team within the Department of the Premier (DotP). There had been subsequent engagements with each of the chief directorates to talk through what had changed through the legislative mandate.
On 25 July, the Department had had a session where the entire team of Organisational Design(OD) from the Premier’s Office were met, where two options for the macro structure were presented. The Department had internally arranged to review and amend the structures presented. The reviewed macro structure had been given back to OD, and would be presented on their input. In times of time frames, the macro structure and design review, including the change management implementation, had a due date of March 2019.
On the filling of vacant posts, the policy guide allowed a vacant post to be advertised within at least six months from its vacancy date, but the Department did not always wait this long. He gave examples of vacant posts that were advertised in less than six months. He explained that the appointment process had many stages and therefore it took longer than one would want, but it was a regulated framework and the steps had to be followed. There was underspending at times due to the given processes of appointing staff.
Ms Nozuko Zamxaka, DLG Chief Director: Integrated Service Delivery, referred to how the Department had addressed issues of inclusivity, and said the mandate for the implementation of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA) was with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning. As far as this Department was concerned, municipalities had to prepare spatial developmental frameworks (SDF), and as part of the IDP assessment process the same department had to assess SDF in terms of incorporating it in the IDP. The Department would speak to the key issues of integration of the SDF into the IDP, as well as the process agreed around the review and amendments of the SDF in the IDP process.
Mr Morne Pretorius, DLG Director: Service Delivery Integration, would speak on Thusong Centres. It had been communicated to the Committee before that the Department was in the process of doing an audit on the working hours and Mr Pretorious would give the latest information on which centres could adjust their working hours. It had to be taken into consideration that there would be CoE implications for municipalities, such as dealing with overtime issues. There were also other supplemental programmes to ensure the issue around homework hubs and linkages with other programmes.
Mr Pretorius said the Department had done an audit of the usage and opening times and met with all the Thusong Centre managers to raise awareness about the working hours issue. The issues around HR matters and security were acknowledged but managers had been asked to start considering the matter with municipalities internally. More than half of the Thusong Centres had extended their hours to 4.30pm and some have even moved to 5.00pm. Two centres had also started staying open on Saturdays. Some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the Road Accident Fund (RAF) had extended their services.
It was not likely that the envisioned closing times of 6pm or 7pm would happen, but one or two innovations had been started. One was for school going children, where it was found that after school e-centres became overcrowded. The Department had partnered with the Department of the Premier, Cape Access and the Department of Cultural Affairs, to pilot homework hubs or safe educational spaces, and two had already been piloted.
The second innovation was to get more tablets into these centres, as sometimes the number of computers was too low. The third innovation was about adults, and how to process them more quickly during the open hours. The Department had partnered with a work group called Service Interface from the DotP to pilot three queue management systems at Thusong Centres this financial year. The Department was looking at how using technology could increase usage and access at the Centres and optimise the available time.
Mr Walton Carelse, DLG Director: Integrated Development Planning, said the Department had partnered with the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning on SPLUMA implementation. It had started identifying municipalities that were supposed to be either reviewing or amending their SDFs, because they had a particular time period. As required by SPLUMA, the Department had also looked at getting those particular time frames formalized, as they had to be approved by municipalities normally by the end of August so they were written into the time schedules in order to be monitored through the assessment process.
Another matter that the Department was trying to assist municipalities with, was the Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, and it attended most the IDP manager forum meetings that were held quarterly to ensure that what was required from the environmental affairs and development planning perspective.
At the national level, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs(COGTA) had also started a process of reviewing the national guidelines for integrated development planning, and the Department was quite involved with the process. One of the things the Department was trying to add was the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), which affected integrated development planning.
Mr Craig Mitchell, DLG Director: Public Participation, provided feedback on ward committees and their functionality, and planned changes in the future.
All ward committees were trained in terms of functionality, and past experience had shown that in year one and two of the term of a ward committee, there was usually a lot of excitement in serving on the committee, and therefore functionality was not a problem. The third year of the five year term was when it started not being optimal. These were the challenges the Department was facing, and it was focusing on supporting municipalities in filling vacancies on the committees.
The majority of municipalities had reported that they had vacancies in their ward committees. By ensuring the functionality so that ward committees did not become dysfunctional, the Department was focusing on supporting municipalities in filling the vacancies, and majority of the ward committees in the province were still functional. After they received training, there was a significant improvement in the role that ward committees played. As requested previously by the Committee, the Department was playing a more active role in monitoring their functionality by randomly visiting wards, and it was very encouraging to see that municipalities were providing feedback to the communities. One of the concerns ward committees had raised in the past was the lack of prompt responses by municipalities to the citizens concerned. Now the feedback was being provided to committees, who were providing it back to citizens.
In total there was an improvement, and ward committees understood their roles better.
Mr Deiner said the Disaster Management Centre had done an impact evaluation report on the installation of smoke machines, and the report could be made available.
Mr Albert Dlwengu, DLG Director: Policy and Strategy, referred to the question about changes to planned targets, and said that when annual plans were created, a certain format had to be followed. There was a column for planned targets for the particular year, and the next column indicated deviations on planned targets. On programme one, under that column there was nothing that spoke about deviations, so that meant there were no changes to what had been planned.
On communication, he said a number of municipalities were supported on the wide-level data base programme. An assessment done in the previous financial year had indicated what support had to be given to certain municipalities. In the process, there were also other communication forums where the availability of the database was tracked. When the Department planned, there had been 20 municipalities needed to be assisted, but by the time it was to be implement, it was found that some municipalities had already worked with other municipalities to have a particular system in place, so there had been an underachievement. It did not mean that when the Department planned, it did not know what it was planning, because an assessment had been done.
Mr Paulse said the remaining questions would be answered but he felt the questions about the Hawks and NPA investigations under way were sensitive, and it would be better if the information was submitted in writing.
The Chairperson responded that Members would be happy with that.
Ms Barnard said there were plans to roll-out the citizen app over a period of three years. Years one and two were dedicated to developing the app with five pilot municipalities. The end of this process had been reached, and the Department was happy that the app was stable and was working, as it had been severely tested in all the municipalities by a number of users. They had just obtained approval now to look for a service provider to roll it out to 12 municipalities with unlimited users. The Department had already started engaging with municipalities in this regard, because from the municipalities’ side, their Information Communication Technology (ICT) capability had to be brought on board. The municipalities where the roll out would be done were ready and excited because they had seen the capabilities of the app.
On the baseline report and reporting fatigue, she said reporting fatigue was something the municipalities brought to the DLG’s attention, as they were engaged on an ongoing basis. Reporting fatigue was due to multiple departments, as well as national departments, asking for the same information. The municipalities felt they were submitting the same things multiple times, and had asked the DLG to find a solution. This challenge had influenced the development of the Integrated Performance Support System (IPSS), which would collect all the relevant information for municipalities in one space where all departments could access it. It was one of the big deliverables for this year. It was an automated system where every six months, information was collected from municipalities. It went to a library and from that library the municipal could access information that they added themselves. There were processes and systems in place to check the quality of information, and the sector departments and national departments could retrieve information as well.
On the baseline report, she said the first time a new electronic questionnaire was sent to municipalities had been a year ago, in March 2017. It had shown the maturity of municipalities across different areas such as infrastructure and finance. The report could be made available to the Committee.
Mr Dlwengu said there was alignment between performance agreements and the IDPs to ensure that the priorities raised by the communities were met. Municipalities complied with regulation 805, and there were no gaps
On the question of which municipalities were assessed around indigent policies, he said the municipalities were George, Oudtshoorn, Knysna, Kannaland, Stellenbosch, Matzikama, Bitou, Cederburg, Drakenstein, Overstrand, Swellendam, Hessequa, Beaufort West, Laingsburg and Breede Valley. The assessment done was to ensure that municipalities were prioritising the indigent policies. COGTA had provided the DLG with a guideline to assess indigent policies. One of the critical areas in the guideline was to make sure that municipalities were including a section whereby they could clearly state how municipalities graduated from being indigent. There could not be indigents forever, and there had to be a way to move away from the programme that was outlined.
COGTA did not provide indigent relief, as the process was to ensure that municipalities themselves were priortising indigent relief.
Mr Brand said that boreholes fell under the mandate of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) and were therefore not a DLG responsibility. The Department did acknowledge the constraints within the DWS and had therefore embarked on collaborating with it to develop a website where municipalities could allow domestic users to register their boreholes, and also the capability to provide water table levels so that the Department could monitor the ground water levels.
Boreholes that belonged to municipalities for their own water sources under the disaster declaration would be used to expedite ground water exploration. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Water Affairs had agreed that all boreholes could continue without applying for a water use licence. The DLG’s geo-hydrologists were in the process of assisting all municipalities to make sure that those boreholes were registered.
Regarding desalination, in terms of the reconciliation study, the order of feasibility for water augmentation was firstly, ground water exploration, secondly waste water reclamation, thirdly storm water harvesting, with the final resort being desalination.
In some towns, especially those closer to coastal areas, ground water abstraction was sometimes a constraint due to the high salt content of water, so there were only three desalination plants currently being considered in preparation and planning. They were in Saldahna Bay municipality at Shelley Point, which was relatively small, Witsand in Hessequa municipality, where it was a donation from the French Embassy, and the third plant was a project started by the DWS in Lamberts Bay.
A Department official responded on the B2B programme, and said diagnostic assessments had been done in all ten municipalities together with all sector departments and across all the pillars, such as public participation, service delivery, good governance, financial management and institutional capability. Because this had been done in 2015, the municipalities that were still on the programme, had to be reviewed. COGTA had subsequently added three more focus areas, which were local economic development, spatial planning and data risk reduction. The diagnostic assessments led to specific support plans for each municipality, as they had different challenges and the support required differed. The specific municipal support plans could be made available.
She said the middle management mentoring programme was a programme to augment training, as it was not always enough. Mentoring was a good programme for people with the talent in an organisation to be promoted. There had been a middle management programme since 2014/15 with 11 mentees, 2015/16 had nine mentees, 2016/17 had 12 mentees and 2017/18 had 11 mentees.
Mentoring was more costly than training because at least seven months was required where a mentee had to go to a municipality, and either be mentored by a municipal manager or section 56 managers, but the DLG felt it had done well with the programme. There had been feedback that three of the mentees had been promoted.
Ms Rowena Kellies, DLG Head of Communications, said part of the DLG’s mandate was to build capacity and develop local communicators. The social media training offered was identified in the CompTec structure. The training was for traditional media and social media. The social media training was done in partnership with the DotP and was offered on the West Coast, but was open to all the province’s municipalities. Social media training outlined the necessary processes and information to run social media accounts. Social media was also a great public participation tool.
Mr Paulse said Professor Jaap de Visser, from the Dullah Omar Institute, was conducting a study on a comparative analysis on an executive mayoral system versus a collective executive system, to see the advantages and disadvantages of both. A comparative analysis had been conducted of case studies in other provinces that had implemented the collective executive system. Based on all this research, the Department hoped to make a more informed decision on an executive system before the next local government elections.
He said that the practice notes were done internally. Based on interaction with municipalities, it had been found that due to gaps in legislation, municipalities needed notes on what to do in certain situations. A copy of the practice notes would be provided to the Committee.
The Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) assessments involved a programme that the DLG would be covering over the next year or two, which was important to ensure functionality.
Mr Dyanti said he was worried about the time it took to make a staff appointment and wanted a commitment that another meeting would be held to address the matter. A year was too long and there had to be an intervention, as budgeting was affected by how long it took to fill posts.
Mr Paulse said the DLG had approached the PT, as it had a number of unfunded posts and with the savings generated on COE, it could now fund the unfunded posts as it was not certain how long filling the vacancies would take. Together with the PT, the Department was working on some interventions and controls to minimise the underspending on COE.
The Chairperson said the matter would be dealt with, and the Committee had to assist the Department.
The Committee moved on to the next section of the report.
The Chairperson asked if the Community Development Workers (CDWs) mandate had remained the same, or if there had been shifts to determine how to utilise the CDWs differently. He was asking the question because he noticed the amount that was budgeted had increased from of R52 million to R66 million. In the Overburg, he had not come across a person who said they were a CDW, and he asked where CDWs lived and where could they be found. He was concerned about the lack of visibility of CDWs. The report said 70 small scale initiatives had been supported -- was this not an economic mandate and not one of the CDW mandates?
He questioned the role of ward committee members, asking if they were necessary in communities and if the training they received resulted in improvement. How would the DLG help ward committee members to focus on their mandate and not act to further their own political agendas?
Mr Simmers said. to summarise the Chairperson’s comments, he wanted to know if the state was getting its money’s worth for what it spent on CDWs. A number of municipalities were listed that still had to submit their annual expenditure reports for the CDW programme, and he asked if there was a specific cut-off date for submitting reports. He had a question on municipal service delivery and the Capacity Building Grant that had also been raised at the Standing Committee on Finance. There were a number of municipalities where funds were rolled over, and the question was whether these municipalities needed to submit plans for the funds that they submitted too late, or had the money been received late in the last quarter?
Mr Dyanti asked for clarity on the Disaster Management Plan. What were the agreements with “Working on Fire,” and based on the agreements, was the DLG ready for the fire season?
He asked what the quality of the IDPs was. The targets had been achieved 100%, but he wanted to know what the nature of the targets was. Did the IDPs have chapters to deal with droughts? Were issues of water demand and quality included? He asked for clarity on the one partially achieved target.
He suspected fiscal dumping by the Department, and said he would illustrate why he suspected this. Firstly, there was a consistent trend of money being allocated across the board in the last quarter, which was January-March in terms of the financial year. On one page it said money was transferred in the last quarter, and then the others would say in January, so he was interested to know if the DLG was able to say it was transferred in January but not spent, as it appeared to be trend. A large part of the money transferred was for the CDW programme, where some municipalities had spent the money by the end of March and others had not. The trend went over into municipal infrastructure issues, where the template of the last quarter was included and he was not impressed, as he regarded it as a template response that was not helpful. It had to be specified why funds had been deposited only in January/February, so close to the end of the financial year, because that was what fiscal dumping was.
Mr Olivier, on page 53, asked for clarity on the R10 million under-expenditure.
He asked about the Joint Planning Initiative (JPI) agreement and the 25% indicated, and wanted to know what sectors were included in the 25% because in the general comments it was said no priorities had been set by some of the departments, and the DLG was engaging on that. What was the progress?
He wanted to understand if the Municipal Service Delivery Capacity Building Grant transferred in the last quarter to Saldanha meant that it was in the last quarter that the capacity building supposed to take place, or was the Department reimbursing them for what they had already done? He needed clarity.
He had the same issue concerning the Operational Support Grant, as it was something municipalities had to use as part of operations, but was only transferred in the last quarter. This behavior did not seem correct.
He asked for further information on the three desalination plants in progress.
Mr Simmers referred to the Municipal Drought Capacity Support Grant, and said Kannaland was mentioned, but on page 71-73 under the Municipal Drought Relief Grant, Kannaland was not listed. Was the Department not capacitating municipalities for the future so they could learn to spend the relief grant? If not, what was the reason?
Mr Paulse responded to the claim that there was fiscal dumping, and said there was a particular planning cycle in municipalities, and the majority of the provincial departments participated in that process. On the planning cycle, it was found that municipalities were engaging communities around their needs and wants as well as sector discussions during the IDP process, and the province was running a concurrent process. The province had recently met to determine its budgets and IDPs over the next year, but the fundamental purpose of the two planning and budgeting meeting processes was to align with municipalities and ask how they could be supported. By the time the province had finalised its budgets and APPs, municipalities had not finalised their budgets and their IDPs. By February/March, the Department’s process was complete. When the Department finalised the baseline of its budget, the municipalities’ budget information was not available and therefore engagement was required to extract the information. With negotiations and submission of business plans, following due diligence processes within the departments to get together with other sector departments to assess municipalities’ requirements, the findings by the departments were then presented in the budget adjustment process and if ministers were in agreement, then money could be transferred only once it had been gazetted as per the Division of Revenue Act (DORA).
All of these were reasons why the money was transferred in the last quarter of the financial year. The financial year of municipalities ended on 30 June, so they had time to spend the money.
The Department was in consultation with the PT to say that capital projects could not be spent within a year, given the supply chain process and planning and implementation, and were negotiating to say that it must actually allocate the funding over a three-year period so as to not create an administrative burden for municipalities having to ask if funding could be rolled over.
The DLG was looking at how it could allocate some of the funding within the baseline so there was adequate time for money to be spent. Part of the issue was that money became available via the DLG’s budget only during the budget adjustment process. All the sponsors of the separate grants listed had the detail to which extent the transfers had been spent, and there was a record kept.
At the time of printing, at the end of the DLG’s financial year when it transferred the funds, certain parts of the amounts had been spent, but the last amounts transferred had subsequently been spent.
Mr Diener said it was a requirement of the Disaster Management Act for all municipalities, state entities and government departments at all levels to have disaster plans. The DLG had a programme whereby it assisted one municipality per year, looking at it from two angles -- how to help the municipality, and the municipality could help the Province.
Transnet and the transport of hazardous material was a big issue, as large volumes were transported that could create major disasters such as explosive or toxic incidents. Municipalities were therefore assisted to develop plans. The DLG had the responsibility to get all the response agencies in to assist and know who had to respond to which point, and the risks. Response agencies were part of the drought task team and would have assisted with the movement of water if the province got to that point.
High Altitude Training (HAT) referred to the training responders had to receive when there were fires on mountains and there were specific risks involved. There were specialised high altitude teams that were flown in to areas to do specific work but every person had to do an induction on working at high altitude, which was the HAT.
Ahead of the fire season, the DLG had put everything in place that it could. The programme was started a while back, to have a maximum response to wild fires. This year, 24 aircraft had been contracted from the province, the City of Cape Town and the Cape Winelands district. There were also specialised ground teams which would be able to move by air to different positions to manage incidents.
This year, there was a category for a catastrophic fire response, where a lot of highly technical equipment could predict fires and their intensity so if an incident was picked up where there was a possibility of a catastrophic fire, the DLG could activate a very large resource to respond.
A very busy fire season was expected as extremely high temperatures and high wind speeds were predicted. The DLG was working on this basis, and normally planned a certain number of flight operations. That was how budgeting occurred. Most of the time the expenditure was higher than budgeted for, but last year it was lower as more fires were predicted because of the drought, but it was not a busy fire season. In the previous year there were 2 000 flights, but this year’s season was quiet.
Mr Carelse responded on the quality of IDP assessments, and said the Department particularly looked at the budget link to the priorities of the IDP in the assessment, and this was the indicator percentage given. However, in relation on the questions on the draft expenditure, the Department did not do its assessments alone, as they were done in relation to internal departments. The Disaster Management unit had been involved in the disaster risk assessment and in relation to the drought assessments done by the municipal infrastructure unit of the DLG.
All the information was taken into account when the assessments were done. It was checked where a municipality was listed as a risk for drought, and what had actually been done. There were also consolidated assessments plans that were freely available, which were done by all the sector departments, together with PT. These plans and assessments would inform if a municipality needed any assistance with their water demand strategies, and would go back to the municipal infrastructure unit to assist
[PMGs record of the meeting ends here]
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