The Minister of Local Government, Environmental Affairs and Developmental Planning emphasised that financial resources were under huge stress, putting strain on national, provincial and local government. The two provinces under extra stress were the Western Cape and Gauteng due to population growth. The Committee’s oversight role would thus crucially aid in pushing the Department in the right direction. The Department was busy with some very good programmes that they wanted to land within the municipal space and that this would help the Department in getting municipalities to lift their standard of services. The Minister said that the Department worked closely with their national counterparts and other institutions that wanted to contribute towards providing better services to residents.
The Department of Local Government presented on its vision, mission, and core functions; 2019/20 Annual Performance Plan (APP); key programmes; and envisaged legislation. Its six priority areas for 2019/20 were: Intergovernmental Planning Alignment (IPA); Citizen Interface; Institutional Governance; Global Climate Change; Infrastructure Management; Disaster Risk Management. The organogram divided the Department into four programmes: Administration; Local Governance; Development and Planning; and Traditional and Institutional Management. The Department intended to request approval to amend the Western Cape Monitoring and Support of Municipalities Act.
The ensuing discussion included: the APP; Ward Committee system; possible interventions; oversight; public unrest protests; new and draft legislation; narrowing the gap between the community expectations and what municipalities can deliver; priority areas; citizen interface; Community Development Workers (CDW); service delivery; risk management; capacity building; continual changing of legislation by national government; cooperative governance; capacitating municipalities; demarcation; lack of contact between people and councillors; lack of accountability; vacancies in programmes; Community Work Programme (CWP); local implementing agents; urban and rural safety; spatial planning; councillors under threat; Integrated Development Planning (IDP); Joint District Approach (JDA); and getting provincial officials to engage with local government.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the very first meeting of the Committee. He was surprised by the large attendance and was pleased that the Department was taking the Committee so seriously by sending a large delegation to its first meeting so that Committee members could acquaint themselves with the officials they would be interacting with. His wish for the Sixth Term was that the Committee and Department would have cordial engagement which may, at times, be very robust and uncomfortable for both of them. However, it was all in the name of oversight and service delivery for the millions of people out there who depended on the sterling work that had been done in the Fifth Parliament. The Chairperson read out the agenda which set out the tasks that needed to be completed. He handed over to the Minister to provide a contextual overview.
Minister Anton Bredell stated that it was known that local government was the coalface of service delivery as “it is where the takkie hits ground”. The Department realised that it was under stress as all municipalities were being governed in a very difficult period. World-wide the economy was in a down-swing so there were big financial strains on the Department. Last week the Department received a circular from Treasury, stating that the Department needed to cut 5% this year, 6% next year and 7% in the MTEF. He explained that if this was going to stand, R12 billion would need to be cut over the next three years. This put strain on everybody – national government, provincial government, and local government especially. The two provinces under extra stress were Western Cape and Gauteng due to population growth, which was one of the issues that needed to be dealt with. From 2002-2018 there was a 39.8% population growth, and the estimates would be that in the next 15 years another two million people would be added to the Western Cape. The predictions going forward were up to 2025, the Western Cape could add anything from 500 000 to 800 000 people to its population. If 100 litres had to be provided to each person, an extra 80 million litres of water would be needed. Thus, although the Western Cape had received good rains, this was only a breather. It gave the Department time to plan better but that they needed to realise that all resources were under huge stress. It was going to be crucial how this was to be managed going forward. The Standing Committee with their oversight role, keeping the Department sharp, and criticising and pushing the Department in the right direction was crucial in getting the Department to provide support to municipalities so that they can serve their residents. This same pressure was on energy, sewerage and all core functions. The Department was busy with some very good, exciting programmes that they wanted to land within the municipal space and that, going forward with the Committee, this would actually help the Department in getting municipalities to lift their standard of services. The Department worked closely with their national counterparts, as well as the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and any institution and anyone in the private sector that wants to contribute towards ensuring better services to residents.
Department of Local Government (DLG) 2019/20 Annual Performance Plan
Mr Graham Paulse, DLG Head, explained that the presentation was an overview of the Department’s APP. If the Committee wished to have more detailed information on programmes and on the municipalities, they were happy to present that information at a later stage.
The Department envisioned an efficient and dynamic team that enabled well-governed municipalities to deliver services to communities in a responsive, sustainable and integrated manner. Their mission was to monitor, coordinate and support municipalities to be effective in fulfilling their developmental mandate and facilitate service delivery and disaster resilience through engagement with government spheres and social partners. Chapter 7 of the Constitution outlined the objectives and mandates in respect of local government, and the core functions and responsibilities of the Department were drawn from the legal mandate. The Provincial Department had multiple roles which could be split amongst Municipality, Provincial Department, and National Department. The Municipality played an implementation role, the Provincial Department played an oversight role, and the National Department played a legislative role. Thus, what was of importance was the coordination of the various spheres of government.
The priorities were based on an assessment of the IDP programmes. Some of the emerging themes that came through in municipalities included: Waste Management; Political, Administrative and Social Instability; Citizen Interface; Financial Sustainability; Partnering/Partnerships/Shared Services; IPA; Data Management; Institutional Governance; Infrastructure Management; Immigration/Urbanisation; Local Economic Development; Disaster Management; and Climate Change/Water Security.
The priority areas identified for 2019/20 were:
▪ Intergovernmental Planning Alignment: Co-planning and co-implementation;
▪ Citizen Interface: Direct and indirect impact on the standard of people’s lives;
▪ Institutional Governance: The unknown impact of national and provincial elections;
▪ Global Climate Change: Ensure water resilient province;
▪ Infrastructure Management: Planning, development and maintenance; and
▪ Disaster Risk Management: Increasing capacity to deal with increased disaster risk.
- Intergovernmental Planning Alignment (IPA) ensured that the Department acted as a gateway to local government and municipalities by taking provincial Departments to municipalities and bringing local government to the provincial Department. The Provincial and Local Government Interface for Service Delivery had conceptualised the JDA which was a geographical (district) and team based, citizen focused approach to provide government services. To improve the living conditions of citizen, the JDA would work with District Coordinating Forums (DCF) to deal with planning priorities, strategic priorities and service delivery challenges through a Municipal Single Support Plan.
- Citizen Interface focuses on enhancing participatory democracy, accountability, improving functionality of ward committees, enhancing sector representation, development and monitoring of Service Charters, and strengthening the interaction between communities and municipalities.
- Institutional Governance concerns the provision of support to political office bearers in terms of the Code of Conduct and Rules of Order; whistle-blowing support in cases of fraud, corruption and maladministration and conducting assessments and investigations in response to fraud and corruption allegations, and collaboration with law enforcement authorities; and support to ensure compliance with laws and regulations.
- Climate Change: the Department is developing a 15-year Western Cape Integrated Drought and Water Response Plan (WCIDWRP). The aim of WCIDWRP is to ensure the timely planning and implementation of interventions for an integrated and coordinated provincial response to the impact of the drought. The WCIDWRP is also meant to provide identification of municipal infrastructure projects required to build additional adaptive capacity and water resilience, as well as aid in the development of a model to aid infrastructure and resource planning. The Department developed an action plan which included Water Augmentation (adding new water to the system), Supply Management (enhanced source monitoring and management), and Demand Management (enhanced measurement and management of water use).
- Infrastructure Management: there was R500 million for the Municipal Infrastructure Grant Programme. Electricity Planning and Integrated Long Term and Infrastructure Planning were also to be considered.
- Disaster Risk Management was to assist municipalities with risk profiling, capacity building, and awareness programmes.
The organogram divided the Department into four programmes: (1) Administration; (2) Local Governance; (3) Development and Planning; and (4) Traditional and Institutional Management. The purpose of each programme was explained. Local Governance consisted of IDP, CDW Programme, Service Delivery Integration, Public Participation, Municipal Support and Capacity Building, District and Local Performance Monitoring (vacant position), Specialised Support, Municipal Infrastructure, and Municipal Governance. Development and Planning consisted of Disaster Risk Reduction, Disaster Operations and Fire Brigade Services.
The Department intended to commence with the process to request in principle approval from Cabinet to amend the Western Cape Monitoring and Support of Municipalities Act in order to remove red tape and expedite the investigations process in 2019/20. A number of national laws would have a significant impact on local government, including the Traditional and Khoisan Leader Bill; Municipal Systems Amendment Act; and Municipal Structures Amendment Bill.
The Chairperson said that the detail was contained in the APP itself and that this was just a brief overview of what it entailed. The Committee would look at the content thereof in much more detail once the quarterly reports were presented. He was not going to zoom in on the presentation specifically but there was one thing he wanted to address which was very topical at the moment and that he thought was omitted from the Mr Paulse’s municipal trends analysis and emerging themes. He agreed with all of the themes as listed but pointed out that there was nothing about urban and rural safety which was a huge issue within communities – particularly rural areas. Although it was not a core function of municipalities, there needed to be a safety plan and that many municipalities did not consider this to be part of their mandate.
Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) noted the reference to public unrest protests which had become a big problem in his opinion. Mr Paulse said that the Committee could expect an increase of those towards the 2021 local government elections. It seemed to him that the Ward Committee System and the legislative requirement of Ward Councillors having to meet with their wards four times a year was not working. He presumed that it was envisaged in legislation that the structures would pick up early signs of leads etc. He asked Mr Paulse what he saw as possible interventions to ensure that the structures become more effective and that, perhaps, the gap between the expectation of communities and what the municipalities can deliver can be narrowed or explained to people so that they understand the limitations of local government.
His second question concerned legislation. It had been his experience that even people that act as consultants to local government sometimes struggle to keep up with the changes in regulations and legislation and therefore make mistakes which are often taken on review by people aggrieved by decisions by local councils. There used to be an official in the Department that scanned these regulations in the Government Gazettes on a regular basis, and forwarded that to thousands of local government employees and management. The official has now retired and he was concerned that this gap was increasing. He asked how the Department saw its role as advisory body assist local government officials to keep up with new regulations and new expectations.
Ms M Maseko (DA) noted Citizen Interface as a priority which has been a challenge in ensuring public participation for communities to ensure that they become part of the changes happening within their spaces. The Committee’s concern was the perception that the community development workers (CDWs) are there to translate information and make the community aware of all happenings within government i.e. they are the link within communities. However, it had not been happening this way. If the Department was to start a priority area focused on Citizen Interface, this meant that they would be trying to communicate directly. For years CDWs had been a challenge on how to hold them accountable and monitor that there is value attached to what they are bringing within the Department itself – quality could not be assured. In some areas where operations are problematic, she asked whether they were communicating with communities by having Ward Committees to provide information in the municipalities. How was the Department going to be innovative to change Ward Committees to be workable within communities? She raised this as she wanted to ensure that the Department really had a priority area that was workable, and for it to be easy for communities to have access to information and know their role within municipalities and to really receive the service delivery they are supposed to receive within those struggling municipalities.
Mr P Marais (FF) said that having been in the position of MEC for Local Government for quite some time, he took a keen interest in local government. Mr Paulse spoke about service delivery, risk management, capacity building, new legislation, and the continued changing of legislation by national government. Mr Marais asked to what extent cooperative governance played a role between the municipalities and the province. Power, in terms of the Constitution, was never moved from the bottom to top as it must be devolved down. He asked which functions and powers the provinces currently had that he felt could be better managed by municipalities. Secondly, Mr Marais said that capacitating municipalities would have to include accountability to the people that municipalities represent. He was talking about demarcation and asked if the Committee and Department must again look at the re-demarcation of municipalities. He had been to a lot of small towns, like Slangrivier and Pacaltsdorp, where he saw that the demarcation did not work. What advice would Mr Paulse give the Municipal Demarcation Board on this?
Mr Marais mentioned that when he was still MEC for Local Government, local government consisted of Tygerberg, Blaauwberg, Helderberg and South Peninsula, and the municipalities were closer to the people. Each of these areas knew who their councillors were and who was accountable to them. Sarcastically, Mr Marais said that some clever people decided that they needed a huge metro. There was no contact between the people and councillors anymore and that there was no accountability. Someone living in Joe Slovo must come to Cape Town to see someone in Wale Street and he asked if this as an improvement in terms of accountability, risk management and law and order.
Mr Marais stated that the Constitution, at section 235, read that “The right of the South African people as a whole to self-determination, as manifested in this Constitution, does not preclude, within the framework of this right, recognition of the notion of the right of self-determination of any community sharing a common cultural and language heritage, within a territorial entity in the Republic or in any other way, determined by national legislation.” He asked, if the Constitution said that people who share a common culture or language have the right to be demarcated within an area and be in charge of their staff, why the Department wanted to throw everybody together and thereby destroying the unique culture of a community and have multiculturalism instead of uniculturalism. He asked the Department’s view on that constitutional point, especially because Mr Paulse referred to the Traditional Leaders and Khoisan Bill which strengthens the argument. Although Mr Marais was impressed by the Provincial Department and thought that they were doing a great job, he asked how it would engage with local government and national government to make accountability a big part of its strategy.
Mr D Smith (ANC) asked the Minister what his attitude was towards the CDW Programme as this programme was being run differently in the Western Cape compared to other provinces. In terms of support for municipalities, there are CDWs that do not really have offices in the municipalities. There was a 40/60 percent principle being worked on. He had been part of the programme and training years ago, so he understood and knew exactly what was expected. He also knew that the programme was the implementation responsibility of provincial government but it was also a presidential programme by the President at the time, Thabo Mbeki, who had been implementing it. Mr Smith was aware that the programme was under-capacitated in this province because when going to Johannesburg or any other province, one found that the programme is much more advanced in those areas than in the Western Cape. This brought him back to a few years ago when he asked the MEC about the programme, who identified the programme as a stepchild that he inherited. Mr Smith asked if this was the attitude of all officials and senior management towards the programme. It was actually a brilliant programme that should be utilised to shine as a Department at local level in terms of service delivery between government and communities. The reality was that politics played a very important role at local level when it came to this programme. When some political parties won elections and took over municipalities, the next thing was that the CDW would be chased out of municipalities. Mr Smith said that this was something that he could not understand and asked how the programme could be approached politically when it was a governmental issue. This was a very big concern. He noted vacancies in the programme that had not yet been filled where community development workers had passed away. Instead of advertising the position and filling it with a competent person, it was being filled by just anyone. This brought him back to the attitude towards the programme in the Western Cape government. He did not want an official to answer this but needed the MEC to give him his direct view and approach.
His second concern was the current CWP which was he thought fairly new and fell under this Department. This programme also had implementation challenges at a local level. The programme was similar to the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) but just a bit different. The implementing agents were the problem, as there was one implementing agent nationally but the handbook was clear in requiring a local implementing agent. Gaps could clearly be seen since the implementing agent required at local level was not there. The programme was growing by the year and he asked what the Western Cape government’s view on this was.
Lastly, Mr Smith commented on the realignment of municipalities and demarcation. The reality was that there were municipalities which are not able to function on their own anymore. There were literally municipalities with an income of R10 million in local taxes per month, of which R6 million must go to Eskom and R4 million to salaries. He asked if there was a process in place for the Department to sit down with all the under-capacitated municipalities and realign them to get more capacity and support because the reality the Minister mentioned was that the population was growing by the day. Three months from now, Cape Town would not have the same number of people it currently had. This was the reality of this province. If the Department did not realign its vision, goals and planning to this reality, the Department would have to review the programme not once a year but rather every six months. This went back down to municipalities.
The Chairperson noted the challenges that municipalities had and said he did not know where ethics in management and risk fitted in. He asked what the Department was doing to mitigate that particular risk given the malfeasance that happened in some municipalities.
Minister Bredell replied that he did not have any attitude towards the CWP except to try and make it work. He referred to the rollout of the CDW programme. Some of his colleagues would remember that, since 2009, every year this was the question they would get asked in the legislature and that they could even anticipate beforehand. He explained that it was sad, that it had started off, that that it was part of the Committees, and it was one of the challenges that politicians who did not make it in the electoral process would enter into. The legislature was where they politicised it and where it became a problem for the Department to manage. He added that money was an issue. The Minister was of the opinion that one did not enter the CDW space to stay there forever. There was a lot of debate within the Department on how they could take such programmes forward and give someone a career path.
He was a mayor when the programme was launched year ago and he was one of the people who had said that the programme was very good. There was nothing wrong with the programme but that it was how the Department was going to implement it and roll it out. Currently, it was difficult with the financial strain that everyone was under. He emphasised that he thought the CWP was a brilliant programme. He commented that where the CWP differed from the EPWP was that 15% of the allocation could be used to buy material so that plumbers and builders could be taught. The Minister said that the Department had put in an application and was awarded it. The first one was in Grabouw and that the government started with the implementing agent. Where he differed was that he would do away with implementing agents and give it to the province to run. The Minister thought that money was being poured in at the top and that too little was coming out. He explained that what had been done was that nine national agents had been employed and nine provincial agents. If the Department was going to put in another layer, there was not enough money to train people and get them into the system. Where he thought the debate should be, and that where the Department was busy debating with national government, how the Department could join the programmes. This was because too many people also entered the EPWP and stayed there, which was never the purpose of it – people were meant to enter, get trained and get a permanent job. This was a vision that the Department and Committee needed to work towards pushing. A lot of the time, when people started to march due to lack of payment or being treated fairly, they would march to the Department. However, it was actually the implementing agent that they needed to march to. Within this space, there was a lot more that the Department could do in their meetings with the National Minister and they were busy looking at how they could join some of the programmes.
He differed when it came to the realignment of municipalities and said there was a notion that metros would save them which he also differed with. Metros would not save them because, if something went wrong in a metro, this would be a big problem and turning that ship would be very difficult. There were good programmes but the problem was that the Department did not continue with the programmes. He recalled the programme called Project Consolidate which he thought was a very good programme, but which was only for a year. Within a year, the Department managed to turn around a Cedarberg but then they stopped the programme which was where the problem arose. Small municipalities could survive and proof of this was Laingsburg, who survived on a very small budget and had done the basics right.
He referred to his colleagues who had worked in December trying to solve the water crisis. The Department had made some unpopular statements and it was because they had found the water crisis to be a management problem. The Department had gone to the Karoo and found that the municipal managers were on holiday in Blauuwberg while the Department had to sort out their water. The water was there but it was a management problem – municipalities would have plants that had been switched off or have maintenance problems. The Minister said that more sensitivity was needed in messaging, as honesty was needed. The National Department of Water Affairs had joined the Department (DLG) for such a meeting and everyone was on the same page in agreeing that it was not a water problem but a management problem. Municipal managers were to go back to their municipalities and were instructed that no emails be sent as the problem could not be solved via email.
On the realignment of municipalities, the Minister thought that a debate was needed on how DLG would balance the payment against the non-payment of services. Due to demarcations, some municipalities did not have an economic hub. Government should support these municipalities and place less focus on municipalities with economic hubs, which the Department did sometimes get wrong. DLG had done a growth potential study, and it was now busy looking at it again to see what the growth notes were and how DLG could do better going forward in working with municipalities. And for municipalities to understand the joint initiative that DLG had presented at the President’s Forum which was now going to become a national programme. This gave DLG clarity on districts because the argument concerned whether or not districts were needed. There was now a joint planning initiative coming from the President and DLG was thus going to stay with districts. DLG now needed to work out a funding model, how they would make this work and DLG was now entering a space where they could debate the funding model for districts and what role they are to play in service delivery. He thought that it could help DLG a lot if they could make the DCFs because, normally within a district, those municipalities within a district would have the same problems, challenges and opportunities.
The Minister addressed Mr van der Westhuizen and said that DLG had a big drive on ward committees. This was one of the things which DLG had worked on and built. DLG first had to establish ward committees throughout the province and that they had to focus on training speakers. DLG also had to give Administration some responsibility so that they knew how they would work with the minutes of ward committees. DLG had one of the best practices as the Ward Committee Handbook had been translated into braille – the only one in the country. This sent a strong message on how DLG saw the programme and he personally believed that ward committees were core to the communication system of the people and that DLG and the Committee needed to talk about communication. Also if DLG did not stay on par with changing trends then it would lose out. Fewer people go to public meetings and more people are interacting on their phones. Was DLG ready and geared for this? DLG had a programme application (app) for municipalities that they had started to design, roll out, and would build on because it was crucial that they spoke with the people – especially if they wanted to convince them that it is not to their benefit to always march to the state. DLG acknowledged that people did have the right to go to state and that it was their task to convince people not to protest. Therefore, the Minister and Head of Department had set up a meeting with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) Commissioner based in the Western Cape, Mr Chris Nissen, to see how they could join forces, strengthen his hand, and help DLG in addressing communities on burning issues within communities more often. The Minister explained that this was because the Department should never get to stage where protests were needed. DLG received comments that there were criminals involved in protests. There might be a very small criminal element in a riot, but that most of the time people did have real concerns. DLG needed to identify these concerns if they were to solve this. The Minister and Mr Paulse would sit with the Commissioner and work very closely with the Standing Committee, listen to their ideas and see how DLG could improve local government.
On urban and rural safety, Mr Paulse replied that DLG was working together with the Department of Community Safety (DCS). At the end of the previous year, DCS had through the adjustment budget process given each district R1 million to develop safety plans. DCS took responsibility for urban safety and the Department of Agriculture played an important role in rural safety in the province.
Mr Paulse said that the Committee had mentioned the legislative knowledge gaps currently present. He noted DLG had a legislative task team, there were legal persons within municipalities looking at legislative implications and DLG itself disbursed legal advice about local government. DLG was in the process of appointing an individual to close the gap. DLG had approached the Community Services Centre (CSC) and the human resource capacity did not sit within DLG, but rather the Department of the Premier. There were thus certain guidelines and rules which DLG was now complying with to ensure that the particular official is appointed, within DLG on a contract basis, to do the work that had been done in the past.
Mr Paulse addressed the Chairperson and Mr Marais, saying that DLG had just had a briefing with the Demarcation Board. They had work that they needed to do for the 2021 local government elections and they worked on the guidelines within municipalities. It was now about determining the number of wards, councillors, and so on. There had originally been 105 municipalities in the province which became 30 through the demarcation process. This was fundamentally because the 105 municipalities were not viable. He could clearly remember having to drive up and down to the smaller municipalities which were not sustainable, did not have a revenue base or for various other reasons were demarcated and reduced to 30 municipalities. It should be remembered that now that there were only 30 municipalities, that some municipalities had adopted the approach of town managers. For example, due to geographical space, Swellendam had Barrydale on the other side of the mountain. Swellendam has now permanently placed a town manager and some selected staff to deal with service delivery matters in Barrydale. A number of municipalities had adopted this approach to be closer to their communities.
Mr Paulse said that obviously there were now cries by the Garden Route to become a metro but, as the Minister stated, metros were not going to solve the problem. There were various considerations and challenges around this. There are smaller municipalities that are not sustainable. He made an example, saying that that morning he had spoken to the Municipal Manager of Kannaland on the phone and DLG now needed to go there this week. Kannaland got its revenue from its people in four wards: Ladismith, Zoar, Van Wyksdorp and Calitzdorp. Zoar contributed to 40% of the population of Kannaland but hardly a cent was coming from Zoar which implied that there was a problem with the sustainability of the municipality. The question was DLG should demarcate and take part of Kannaland into Oudtshoorn and part into Hessequa, as an option for dealing with struggling municipalities. He had mentioned this to the Municipal Manager as a lot of effort, support and money had been put into Kannaland to make it work and provide services to the community.
Mr Paulse referred to the Khoisan Bill. KwaZulu Natal had over R800bn irregular expenditure due to the traditional leader legislation. National and provincial treasury refused to give them money which created challenges for the management of that legislation. Headmen and secretaries had been appointed and the Department was learning from this not to make the same mistakes as other provinces. He knew what the Committee was saying about giving particular recognition to groups around this.
Mr Paulse referred to what the Minister had said about the CDWs and trying to migrate some of the CDWs. DLG had done an assessment some years before and they were about to do another assessment on the CDW programme and how to finance it going forward. In the previous and current year there were lots of challenges with the Auditor-General about the CDW programme. They had interviews the previous week with some of the CDWs in trying to prioritise the CDW programme in the Department’s own cost of employment. Mayors had asked him for more CDWs but DLG did not have the money. Provincial and National Treasury were cutting department budgets. Mayors actually liked the programme.
On the question about ethics, lots of work was being done around ethics. DLG was doing another training programme in concert with the University of Stellenbosch to train councillors about ethics. The draft programme had been brought to him and he had said that it was not going to work – councillors could not be trained about ethics unless awareness was raised around personal values and skills. If someone wanted to be a councillor, it had to be asked what the required skills set was to be a councillor. It had to be determined whether they fit the skill set and whether they have the skills. One could not teach councillors about ethics when, in the meantime, they did not exhibit the personal values required to be a councillor. Mr Paulse said that the programme was thus on its way and that DLG was doing work around ethics in municipalities. This was obviously by means of the Integrity Management Framework and that DLG worked together with the national Department and government around strengthening ethics in municipalities. At a later stage DLG could provide detail about the programme.
Mr Craig Mitchell, DLG Director: Public Participation, replied to the question about the CWP. He needed to elaborate on what the Minister had indicated and said that it was correct as national guidelines did determine that the implementing agents must be locally based. When the contract expired and the new implementing agent was appointed, DLG was as surprised as the province that the implementing agent was not from the Western Cape. In actual fact, two implementing agents were appointed for the Western Cape – the AIDS Foundation and Insika Foundation. Both were not locally based and he needed this to be clarified. DLG had no say in the appointment of the implementing agent as this was a process which was solely the responsibility of the national Department.
As the Minister had indicated about ward committees, Mr Mitchell said that DLG had made significant progress as the Committee would have been aware of the challenges experienced with their functionality. The support initiatives in the province gave rise to an increase in functionality. There had been various support initiatives and the Minister had mentioned the braille handbook. The Western Cape was also the first province to come up with the Know Your Ward Committee Campaign. DLG had supported all municipalities with the Know You Ward Committee Campaign with calendars and posters, and that he would share copies at a later stage. The Western Cape also had Civic Education and had also recently started with the Client Services Charter. Thus various support initiatives had been rolled out by DLG. Mr Mitchell said that they were in the third year of the five-year term. In the first and second year there was a lot of hype as people were excited to serve on ward committees and thus functionality is not a problem at the beginning. However, they were now in the third year and that it would get even worse in the fourth year. The Department had quite a few vacancies that were being filled now but its biggest challenge was accountability. This is because ward members were not accountable to communities but were representing either sectors or blocks. DLG had discovered through its monitoring that the ward members did not have public meetings and were representing themselves at the end of the day. He emphasised that this was something DLG was working on and mentioned that the legislative review was also currently happening at a national level. There was going to be an amendment to the legislation pertaining to ward committees and DLG was confident with its input and continued support initiatives, it would be able to turn it around.
Ms Nozuko Zamxaka, DLG Chief Director: Integrated Service Delivery, replied about the Citizen Interface. DLG had looked beyond only communication as a component of the service delivery programme. They asked what the public participation weaknesses were that they needed to address. Mr Mitchell had spoken about monitoring the functionality of ward committees. A second component was the service interface where some municipalities did not have service charters. DLG had to assist municipalities to develop them and where this had been developed, DLG was to start a process of monitoring adherence to those service standards. Mr Mitchell had dealt with the accountability of councillors. One of the areas that Mr Mitchell had talked to was that members were not necessarily going back to have public feedback sessions. Mr van der Westhuizen had indicated that councillors were not necessarily keeping to their schedules. As part of the monitoring function Mr Mitchell had engaged with municipal speakers in the Speakers’ Forum to be able to sensitise them about this.
Ms Zamxaka said that the other component was the complaints management system which municipalities had but that DLG needed to ensure are effective. This was why DLG said that they were focusing on the Citizen Interface. Mr Mitchell had spoken about citizen empowerment and DLG had developed DVDs, which could be made available to the standing committee. DLG had various modules on what a municipality is, what the role of the citizen is, and how citizens began interacting with municipalities. In addition, wherever there were Thusong centres, Thusong outreaches or committee engagements, DLG was playing the videos where there was a crowd. DLG was looking at extending this and play these videos in other community facilities such health facilities to ensure that citizens were aware of their rights and make their politicians more accountable. DLG was thus looking at various means – from a public participation point of view to Thusong to CDWs. Thus, it was not one particular programme that was being looked at.
Mr Heinrich Magerman, DLG Director: CDW Programme, replied about CDW offices, saying that there were only two municipalities in the Western Cape that DLG did not have an agreement with. This included Bergrivier, which had a very specific set of circumstances, and so DLG had entered into an agreement with the West Coast District Municipality. DLG knew that there was a CDW without an office and it was working on this and that it was immensely complex. What he was trying to say was that generally DLG had made provision for CDWs. The other CDW was in Swellendam where DLG had procured, through Public Works, their own offices. CDW was a partnership programme and made an example of a statement made by Ms Maseko aout its impact. He also referred to Mr Paulse having said that DLG would do another review of the CDW programme. The CDW in the Western Cape was the only province that now had prepared agreements in terms of the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act with each of the municipalities, as well as in confirming the independence of the spheres, the autonomy of municipalities, and the constitutional need for cooperative governance. As Mr Paulse had said there was a lot of demand from mayors themselves for more CDWs. He made an example of impact and emphasised that the CDW was a partnership programme that worked with others. He gave the example of Masiphumelele where there was a fire in the past week, saying that the CDW team was there and that there was a lot about impact. The journey would now be taken with the Committee to improve the further rollout of the programme.
Mr Marais asked the Minister what input he had with the new spatial planning. He asked if the Minister was part of the team that was to determine the objectives of spatial planning and how this would impact on municipalities. This was because when studying what the team intended doing, he found that it was to create housing opportunities for homeless or poor people closer to the city centre. Morally this was perfect but it would also be a big burden on the capacity for service delivery, infrastructure and safety within the metro. Mr Marais asked if the Minister was part of this discussion or whether it was something that national government would again enforce on the province.
Mr van der Westhuizen sarcastically said that he would appreciate it if Mr Marais would finish off with his plans for a “Western Cape Orania” and where the boundaries should be so that the Committee could decide if it wanted to discuss this in the future. He referred to the question about local government playing a role in trying to improve community safety. He thought of the ‘broken window’ scenario where if public facilities were kept up to standard, quite often crime would go down. He would appreciate it if DLG and the Committee could perhaps in the future discuss what role local government could play in improving that kind of safety. On the topic of safety, it needed to be acknowledged that all ward councillors were under threat. He had recently seen statistics on the number of public representatives that had died. KwaZulu Natal would be in the number one position, but that it seemed to him that in the Western Cape there were also a lot of councillors that were not safe. He wondered to what extent DLG could give guidance to municipal managers and administrations to assist councillors in terms of safety concerns. Many councillors were afraid to face their communities during ward and other public meetings because the expectations of communities far exceeded what local government could provide. The Committee and Department were thus sitting with a number of problems, such as an increasing waiting list for housing. During IDP meetings people raised matters which fell outside the ambit of local government – such as job creation and unemployment. He asked to what extent DLG could provide support to councillors on those topics.
Ms Maseko agreed about councillors and public meetings because this was problematic. A councillor might want to give a report back but community expectations was one scenario that made ward councillors say that they could not go to a public meeting as there are expectations concerning housing which they would have to answer. She referred to the CDWs and said that she heard and appreciated all the strides that DLG had made. Since the Committee had first raised the CDWs, it could see that a lot had been happening. From the Member’s side she thought that the reason the Committee harped on this was because of the opportunities that government was creating for the communities – especially the youth. It allowed communities to get information on what government was offering for them to change their lives so that they can at least be self-sustainable. Somehow this information was not reaching communities. As Members they were trying to find out how to give this information to communities such as bursaries. The Western Cape government had done a great job in all of its departments and that the Committee was doing oversight. The most important issue was to say how they would go about their communication to communities. If the Committee and Department could have a system that was workable, the CDW had to be the one-stop shop giving the information on what resources were available. This was the system that the Committee thought could work to assist those kids that end up saying that they are going to have two kids so that they can get a social grant. Ms Maseko said that the Committee and Department needed to say who could help to deal with the communities and get the communication correct.
On the safety of councillors, Mr Paulse replied that DLG was working with the DCS. If there was any threat to the lives of councillors and officials in municipalities, DLG had collaborated with DCS and the police who would go out immediately and do a threat analysis to see to what extent lives are threatened. The police worked with DCS to finalise the threat analysis and if there was adequate evidence that lives were being threatened, it was the responsibility of the municipal manger or municipality to provide protection for that councillor – whether 24/7 police protection or a bodyguard. This was the approach that DLG was adopting as an operational response to a threat on the lives of councillors or senior officials within municipalities. DLG was working closely with SALGA to provide a broader strategy on councillor safety within the entire country and the Western Cape in particular.
Mr Paulse replied that part of the JDA purpose was to get the provincial Department and provincial officials down into municipalities. This was because many times at IDP and consultation sessions with communities, the public raised requests about education, health and other provincial competences that were not local competences. There was no one to represent these departments at meetings and thus part of this was to get the provincial officials at ground-level to engage with local municipalities, districts and communities. The idea was that the district interface teams consist of provincial and local government officials, and it would be a good idea to get a CDW from each municipality on that team to help facilitate processes. It could perhaps deal with some of the communications challenges, although they also provided extensive support to municipalities on communication and strengthening their communication capacity and skills both internally and with communities. The JDA would deal with a lot of the interface and strengthening it.
On job creation and the economy, he pointed out that the previous week Wesgro had a two-day session with all of the mayors and municipal managers to see how it could attract investment into those municipalities, create export opportunities abroad, and create jobs. Wesgro had adopted the JDA and wanted to be part of the entire process.
The Minister replied that DLG was very much involved in spatial planning as they had to sign off on the spatial plans of municipalities. He agreed that it was important to get the spatial planning right. He had just come out of a strategic session with his other Department, Environmental Affairs and Developmental Planning, where they had a debate on spatial planning going forward and giving guidance to municipalities. The Minister said that obviously DLG wanted municipalities to integrate but that there were also very strong existing lines within municipalities like highways and railway lines. The question was how to use those opportunities to bring people closer to one another. DLG knew that they needed to go up, but that they could not just go up without a very disciplined process. If people who do not share the same value system were put together within a block of flats this could get chaotic – which DLG did not want. The debate was more about how to build a lifestyle for persons, not a house. This was an ongoing debate with the Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) programme. In the Department of Environmental Affairs and Developmental Planning, some very good work had been down creating safe corridors and places where people could do business safely. The question was now how this could be rolled out in volume. Again, money was going to be an issue but if the Committee went to the places where DLG had done some programmes, they would get tears in their eyes if they saw how people were thankful and grateful for the opportunity – it gave quality of life to the individual. He emphasised that DLG would push very hard to continue those programmes and that they were very much involved with spatial development planning.
Mr Marais commented that DLG should not take away all the open spaces as the Western Cape did not want to look like London.
The Chairperson want through the draft programme and noted the next meeting on 13 August 2019 would be a briefing on the quarterly performance for the first quarter (April – June). He said that the Committee needed to get clarity on how far DLG was with restructuring the new organogram and what it will look like and their thinking behind before signing off. The Auditor-General briefing was set for 27 August 2019. These were the pressing items that the Committee thought were necessary for now. However, he emphasised that the Committee was flexible. He asked if the Committee provisionally agreed that things would be dealt with in this way – which was agreed upon.
The Committee also approved the minutes of the 4 June 2019 meeting.
Ms Maseko asked if the Committee could get the information about the JDA that DLG had formed. DLG did not have to come and brief them but could just send the information. This would provide clarity when the Committee did their oversight.
The Chairperson agreed.
Ms Maseko requested if the Committee could have the CD information on the ward committees and training councillors programme. She asked about national government appointing two service providers as CWP implementing agents that were not even based in the Western Cape. She did not know how the Committee was going to deal with this. She was open to ideas from Members. The Committee had to check why this was happening. Oversight had to happen but the appointment came from somewhere else. There were parallel processes that were supposed to working.
The Chairperson requested the committee coordinator request the information.
Mr van der Westhuizen said he was unaware of the court finding that sections of the Municipal Structures Act were unconstitutional. He asked if DLG could brief the Committee on the implications.
The Chairperson agreed.
The Committee discussed which sphere of government was responsible for early childhood development. Did local government assume the responsibility because they were doing it on behalf of the provincial government? Mr van der Westhuizen said that local government played a huge role in ensuring the safety of children by doing ECD inspections. He believed that the role was important to communities in ensuring that young children remained safe and had opportunities. Many local governments also provided facilities for this. Young children had to be kept safe and constructively busy from an early age. He requested time for this.
The Chairperson asked the Secretary to flag what had been said. He thanked the Committee for their contributions, patience, and sharing of themselves and their knowledge.
The meeting was adjourned.