District Development Model; with Minister & Deputy Minister

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

22 October 2019
Chairperson: Ms F Muthambi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

District Development Model

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) presented its plan to develop a new District Development Model (DDM). The rationale, objectives, principles as well as implementation steps for this model were provided.  

Questions were asked by the Committee to understand and explore the possible impact the new District Development Model (DDM) would have on local government, closing gaps between local, provincial and national level, sharing expertise, and ensuring policy coherence in its applications to all districts and metros. Members asked the possible additional contributions it could make besides the services delivered within the Integrated Development Framework (IDF). Members noted poor service delivery and corruption at local government level and asked how this model would help to address these two challenges. Was an  accountability mechanism contained in the model? Some members expressed a lack of confidence in the model due to lack of implementation of the Auditor-General’s recommendations. A member pointed to its lack of a stable funding source. The Minister’s lack of interaction with the Committee was noted. Members emphasised the crucial importance of this interaction for good performance in the Department.

COGTA gave input on the progress with its two bills— Municipal Structures Amendment Bill and the amendment of the Municipal Demarcation Act. The Department highlighted key aspects of the two bills and concluded that Demarcation Act must be repealed. The Municipal Structures Amendment Bill had been revived to the NCOP.

Meeting report

Minister’s overview
Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said her department was doing a 25-year review and remarked at the many issues around how governments should concertedly work as one government. She quoted the President’s speech that government is working in silos horizontally as different governmental departments; they are also working vertically in silos as there are three government levels within one government. This served as the motivation of her department’s initiative. To maximise government’s impact on the ground, national and provincial governments need to support local government which is not only what the Constitution stipulates but also because local government is the level of government in which people interact the most. Local government must occupy the pride of place in government.

South Africa is a developmental state. The White Paper indicates that local government should be a developmental government that has economic and social responsibilities towards its people. The Department had done an analysis to investigate whether new legislation would be needed to execute this mission. It found that the Inter-Governmental Relations (IGR) mandate is sufficient to enable COGTA to achieve the agenda. COGTA subsequently discussed it with premiers and mayors and the agreement reached was that this initiative must be piloted to learn from the experience and flaws can be picked up to see if the project would be workable.

The Minister believed that service delivery should be seen within the scope of development. Thus OR Tambo was chosen as the first District Development Model rather than the term district service delivery model.

The Minister explained the steps to develop the model:
• look at the district through developing a detailed profile of the district such as size, population, poverty and schooling level, infrastructure, who heads the household, crime, economic activity and potential.
• develop one plan for the district which includes all three spheres of government as well as the participation of people in that district;
• what are the professionals skills to enable that plan such as ICT and finance skills.
• where it is not possible to have all these skills, the expertise must first be at district level and shared.

44 districts and 8 metros have been included in the project.

The Minister said COGTA aims to ensure that all stakeholders are involved in those districts whether business, traditional leaders, women and so on. The initiative is to ask all people at district and provincial level that have interactions with that district to give ideas so COGTA can work out a plan which can best address the challenges on the ground.

The Minister explained the rationale of the three pilot sites. OR Tambo District Municipality was chosen for its very rural locale; eThekwini Metro was chosen because COGTA needed a metro that can inform it about urban districts; Waterberg District Municipality was chosen for its rural location as well as its mining sector. COGTA hoped that after testing and piloting at these three sites, it could get valuable experience for the roll out of the project. The Department was aware of each district’s uniqueness, but there is definitely commonalities between them. Her department hoped that by 2021 it would be able to roll out to other districts. In the meantime, profiles of those districts are being developed. She noted the importance of the change of attitude by everyone to get this project going. She emphasised the economic activities in those districts. By rolling out the project, it can identify what types of investment would be needed for a particular district.

District Development Model (DDM): COGTA briefing
Ms Mohanuoa Mabidilala, COGTA Chief Director: Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, noted the rationale for the model was what COGTA was mandated to do from a constitutional perspective, Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act, as well as developmental duties stipulated in the Constitution.

Currently the challenges faced were:
• Solve the silos at a horizontal and vertical level
• Narrow the distance between the people, government and the movement between levels by strengthening the coordination role and capacities at District and City levels as it is the penultimate sphere closer to the people after the ward and local level
• Deliver integrated services whilst strengthening monitoring and evaluation and impact at district and local levels, as well as within the movement between levels.
• Ensuring inclusive and gender mainstreamed budgets based on the needs and aspirations of our people and communities at a local level
• Maximising impact and aligning resources at our disposal
• Changing the face of our rural and urban landscapes by ensuring complementarity between urban and rural development, with a deliberate emphasis on local economic development
• Ensure sustainable development whilst accelerating initiatives to promote poverty eradication, employment and equality

The principles underpinning the model as well as the objectives the model sought to achieve were given.

The piloting process at OR Tambo District and at eThekwini Metro was noted. She explained the One Plan through the eThekwini project. The One Plan will include catalytic projects in joint and responsive actions facilitated by the three spheres of government as a response to developmental challenges in the area. In the context of this One Plan, the city, together with other spheres of government and the private sector will seek to address urgent quick wins, such as:
• Providing services and a qualitative future to the 8 802 child headed households in the city and ensuring qualifying grant recipients receive their grants on time and in humane conditions.
• Resettling, into permanent housing, the 8 000 odd households who are still in ‘transit camps’.
• Improving the performance of the tourism sector, through returning to be the preferred destination for domestic tourists, providing a safer and vibrant environment (particularly in the inner city) and unlocking the city’s hosting potential for meetings, conferences, and events.
• Develop and implement an aggressive programme to tackle the 17% of people who reported that they do not have income in the metropolitan municipality;
• Develop and implement a vigorous youth for work programme, which has a skills enhancement element to reinvigorate young people who have given up on seeking work opportunities; and
• Review and redirect government programmes where necessary to ensure that these programmes respond to the developmental challenges of the municipality.

The One Plan includes a demographic and district profile, economic positioning, spatial restructuring, governance and management, infrastructure engineering, and integrated services.

Piloting progress and its implementing steps were also explained.

Mr K Ceza (EFF) asked how much the District Development Model pilot project would cost the Department. Since local governments are being under-funded, what would be the difference that this model could contribute in generating income struggling rural communities within those districts. He asked the Department to elaborate on the meaning of "cohesive vibrant community". He asked how this model would seek to close the gap between rural and urban areas caused by rural to urban migration as well as the centralisation of economic activities. How would it help combat poverty? He asked the Department’s strategy to address spatial planning. What are the model interventions to ensure that the density and scarcity between townships and cities decrease? Karl Marx said that one population always served another and in South Africa, that population had always been black people.

Ms H Mkhaliphi (EFF) commented on the importance of Minister’s attendance to engage in critical discussions with Committee. She remarked that this was the first time the Minister was at a Committee meeting and commended the Deputy Minister’s good attendance record. She had heard about the district model in the media, so she was not very knowledgeable on the matter. She wanted to know what this model sought to achieve, for instance, in the case of eThekwini municipality. However, she fully agreed with the Minister on the challenges that had been identified in the presentation. People spent 17-35% of their disposable income on public transport and she asked how this new model would help address the transport challenge. She wanted to check if the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) mandate was still relevant or whether it was to be faded out. She pointed out that the main challenge currently experienced at local government level is corruption. Is this model going to zoom in on corruption?

Mr M Hoosen (DA) said that he too had heard about the model in the media. He recognised that there is justification for better coordination to some degree. He highlighted the lack of capacity in some battling municipalities. For instance, some municipalities in Limpopo pay consultants R2 million to do auditing reports. There are acting CFOs with limited financial knowledge that have to bring in a consultancy to assist them. There are some municipalities in Limpopo who battle to find CFOs with the current remuneration packages. He asked if those struggling municipalities can collaborate to share expertise such as several municipalities sharing one accountant to manage finances and do internal audit.

However, at municipal level, coordination is not the root cause of under-performance, the root cause is employees’ loafing. There is lacking of passion amongst municipal employees to serve people. Despite this root cause continually appearing in the Auditor-General’s recommendations, there is no improvement. He highlighted the importance of consequence management and asked why no action taken against those irresponsible officials. He noted the Committee’s genuine commitment to make local government work regardless of political differences. However, it lacked the power to fix the problems that her department had.

He appealed to the Minister to please engage closely with the Committee. The Minister must understand that Members’ questions come from their dedication to help the Department perform better, not out of spite to embarrass the Minister to score political points. Ghost workers in the Community Work Programme (CWP) had been raised by the Committee many times but the Department’s responses have been uniformly to “duck and dive”. He advised the Minister that some department officials might intentionally be concealing certain information from her, so she needed to engage the Committee to hear what constituents are saying.

Mr B Hadebe (ANC) said the Committee fully support coordination of resources within local government. He asked what this model sought to achieve with the 44 districts municipalities with their local municipalities and 8 metros in the country. Who will be responsible for this One Plan, is COGTA going to apply this One Plan to all these districts and metros, is there going to be one mayor and no local councillors? The purpose of the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) was to give a sense of what had actually been achieved. He asked what the proposed model would deliver besides the IDP and that currently some parts of the IDP had still not been fully understood. He asked about the Auditor-General’s recommendations on the lack of consequence management and political instability in many local governments. He asked how many of those AG findings had been integrated into the proposed plan. How will this model change mayors and IDPs of metros?

Mr G Mpumza (ANC) agreed with the Department’s rationale to synchronise. The current IDP approach where all municipalities having their own IDP is problematic. The model could also make the available skills in a region clearer so that all local governments could be beneficiaries of the needed skills. He asked about the stable funding source for this project as he did not wish to see another failed project such as rural development plan that got abandoned halfway because of its failure to secure stable funding. He asked what the timeframes were for the pilot.

Mr Du Toit (FF+) used many examples to express his view that local government was on a downward slope.

The Chairperson interjected asking Mr Du Toit to make reference to the presentation content in his questions.

Mr Du Toit replied that he was providing the background for his question. Government was focusing on wrong area and that putting in this new model would not solve the problems. The root cause of all this is corruption and he recommended the Department implement the AG’s findings.

The Chairperson asked about the deadline for phase one for the three pilot sites and if the deadline needed to be revised. She asked how COGTA was going to make other departments comply with its policy in terms of the intergovernmental framework. And what is the monitoring mechanism to ensure this programme will not be one of those programmes that gets abandoned along the way. She believed this new model emanated from the Integrated Development Framework (IDF), but what is the new initiatives of this model since IDF is already there? On the functionality of provincial and district governance, she asked if there is any legal basis to hold them accountable for the successful implementation.

The Minister indicated that the questions would be answered by the Director-General, the Deputy Minister as well as herself.

Department’s Response
On time frames for the pilots, COGTA had concluded OR Tambo district as well as eThekwini Municipality. Waterberg District Municipality would be concluded by 26 November. After the completion of piloting, COGTA would aim to roll out the development of the profiles by the end of November 2019.

On outcome of the model and the concept of a cohesive vibrant community, the outcome to which COGTA referred was a combination of outcomes. COGTA cautioned not to assess a particular outcome in isolation.

On the challenge of 17% to 35% disposable income spent on transport, COGTA was more inclined to tackle the challenge through its three spheres of government. In eThekwini, COGTA had begun making proposals to tackle high transport costs for local poor communities. The number one initiative was to re-vitalise the inner-city so that people could stay in the city without having to travel lengthy distances to work. All in all, to address this would require COGTA to extensively engage with various government departments to negotiate the best deal. What is relevant to the proposed model here is that all these challenges would need other departments’ involvement and response.

On spatial development, it would require the whole government to be involved to address the challenge. The piloting project in OR Tambo and eThekwini were comparatively easier projects without such challenges. The actual roll out of the model would definitely have to involve other government departments. These departments included at least National Treasury, the Presidency and the Departments of Rural Development and Human Settlements as well as COGTA.

On the relationship between DDM and IDP, COGTA developed this One Plan after it had conducted reviews on all the IDPs of districts and municipalities. One Plan is more articulate and is featured in all these different IDPs and can thus bring coherence in the policy framework.

Mr Dan Mashitisho, COGTA Director-General, remarked that there are different understandings about this model and everyone is learning at this stage. The One Plan is not a municipal plan but it is a model on which different IDPs of local governments are based. For instance, if the Department of Human Settlements wants to build 5000 houses, the  One Plan model would clearly divide up the roles and responsibilities of different government levels such as what transport, roads, health – all the services that government should offer. The One Plan also features more transparency as different governments stay well informed of the work of their counterparts which in his view is the only way to success.

On CWP, he responded that his department had conducted a preliminary report on the deceased and people who are double employed. The discovery was that in some areas, there are some ghost workers. He corrected members about 'double employed'. In their research, they found that someone could be working at school who is also doing gardening but both jobs are part-time or on an ad hoc basis. Some people would work on a wine farm and work on the CWP programme because they would earn more on wine farms. In these scenarios, the Department cannot disqualify them because of the complexity of CWP. COGTA can provide the Committee with relevant information.

Deputy Minister’s Response
Deputy Minister Parks Tau said that the District Development Model derives its mandate from the current legislation. This model allows the Minister to issue regulations that institutionalises the inter-governmental system. Thus, there is no need for any constitutional amendment. Local and district municipal councils would still exist under the model. At district level, the new model would make it easier to manage. National and provincial service delivery operates in municipal space. The gap which this model seeks to close is to ensure municipal development is consistent with policy at national and provincial level. It would provide clear accountabilities and responsibilities for each government “vertically or horizontally speaking”. COGTA intended to establish district hubs. As it is impossible to have uniform design for hubs, this model would make it possible to build these hubs to capacitate struggling municipalities in needed areas of expertise such as accounting and project management.

Minister’s Response
Minister Dlamini-Zuma said that the model is currently at the launching stage for the pilot and does not cost anything because it is doing COGTA’s mandate.

She reminded the Committee of the Apartheid era spatial legacy and said she cannot pretend that this model can solve apartheid spatial planning instantly. But COGTA is taking the initiative such as bringing work closer to where people live so that they will not have to end up in informal settlements in the city because the city’s capacity is overstretched.

The Minister emphasised the role of de-centralising the economy in development. She recited a discussion with the Zulu King that said “start with what people have and what people are capable of doing”. She emphasised the correlation between this model and economic development in rural areas so that people do not have to go to urban areas to look for opportunities. People’s housing must also be located within the radius of workplaces. Other factors must also be taken into consideration such as industrial areas, schools, etc. The model tries to improve the synergy in improving planning. The process is a long way but COGTA must have the patience and determination to carry this out.

On corruption, the Minister commented that her department did not have the power to deal with corruption in local government. She emphasised the need to acknowledge the limited mandate of the national government. She urged political parties to take action because they are the ones leading municipalities. She cautioned political parties to ensure the separation of duties and powers and they must never allow good local governance to be eclipsed by political fighting.

The Minister said that some struggling municipalities do not have sufficient funding to appoint professionals to perform certain functions. For instance, the lack of capacity to do auditing reports resulted in a huge bulk being spent on consultancy. Thus, this new model would step in to address the issue.

On loafing workers, she cautioned members about generalising as it is not only happening at the municipal level. If one is not passionate about what one does, naturally the job will not be done perfectly.

The Minister acknowledged the lack of consequence management. She urged people and political parties to evaluate and assess all officials and then implement consequences for those that have stepped out of line. If this becomes a culture, then the whole consequence management would be much easier to follow.

On ghost workers at CWP, the Minister said that her department always matched the register against ID numbers at Home Affairs. Her department is taking the issue very seriously. However, it is a complicated matter. She described that her department had to first check whether the ID exists, then if it corresponds to where the person gets paid, and then it still has to check if there is a warm body to sign. And there still could be the chance that someone forges the signature. She hoped that with biometric technology, this could be reduced. The Minister conceded that she cannot provide the exact figure of ghost workers.

The Minister indicated that the new model is not a new policy but tries to get governments to work in a more integrated way. It is what COGTA is mandated to do. The goal is to maximise the impact on the ground in terms of budget and resource allocation.

In terms of dedicated resources, the Minister indicated her belief that when there is a plan, there is dedicated resources and budget. In OR Tambo district, there is lack of a forensic unit in the district which explains why there was almost no rape conviction in the area. The model uncovered the need to build a forensic laboratory in the district so that rape cases and convictions could follow. In the Minister’s opinion, the One Plan will assist to identify what are the issues.

In response to Mr Du Toit’s question, she did not think what had happened should be the cause to deter the Department’s initiative on this. She agreed that measures need to be in place to ensure that grants are not misspent.

The Minister said that the Inter-Governmental Relations (IGR) framework is working. The District Development Model is implemented through this framework. She conceded that it does happen that sometimes plans fizzle because people do not stick to the plan. She thus hoped that this model would work out.

Minister Dlamini-Zuma explained about her absence. If she is not here, it does not mean she is at leisure. It is because of clashes. That is why she has deputies to express the Department’s views on her behalf. She cannot guarantee she can be here at every committee meeting. She emphasised the need to work together with the Committee.

The Chairperson asked about the many written questions that Committee members had sent to the Department. The answer is always that the information is not readily available and it will be sent to them. She complained that there is no mechanism to follow up.

The Minister replied that when questions are sent to her, they usually go straight to the Department. She pointed out that many of these questions are complex which would require information from provincial departments and municipalities. She cannot answer some questions unless she gets a definite answer from those below her. The uniform answer that Members get was not because of negligence but because these responses needed to be substantiated with information from lower government levels or some people are doing research to provide a better well-informed answer.

Municipal Structures Amendment Bill / Amendments to Municipal Demarcation Act
Due to time constraints, the Committee agreed that the presentation on the status of legislation would not be given. COGTA should just run through the key highlights.

Dr Kevin Naidoo, COGTA Acting Deputy Director-General: Institutional Development, provided the background on the Municipal Structures Amendment Bill. The Bill had been revived to the NCOP in the Sixth Parliament. This Committee had engaged with the Bill in 2018. Dr Naidoo was confident that the Bill sufficiently deals with most if not with all challenges. It had consulted with all stakeholders.  

On the Bill to amend the Municipal Demarcation Act, Dr Naidoo said the Bill had been in the making for 4 to 5 years now. It had been processed through various committee structures, state law advisors, Department of Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation (DPME) and had undertaken at least two socio-economic impact assessment studies, processed by Governance & Administration Technical Committee in the Fifth Administration. The Bill had gone to the political committee two weeks ago. Dr Naidoo said that the conclusion about the Bill was that the Act required a repeal.

Dr Naidoo provided justifications why the Act needed a repeal rather than amendments. The Municipal Demarcation Act was launched in March 1998 and was assented to in June 1998. Some provisions in the Demarcation Act needed to have its corresponding provisions in the Municipal Structures Act. For instance, ward delimitation criteria are absent in the Demarcation Act. Various litigations in the past also informed the provisions of the new Bill. The Bill had been thoroughly canvassed with various stakeholders in the drafting process. The new Bill inserted a section on the Demarcation Appeals Authority (DAA). Dr Naidoo said the Bill was waiting for cabinet approval to publish for public comment.

The Chairperson asked what the status of the Municipal Structures Amendment Bill l was now.

Dr Naidoo asked Mr Motlashuping to respond.

Mr Tebogo Motlashuping, Acting Deputy Director-General: Institutional Development, replied that the Bill had to be revived after it lapsed in the Fifth Parliament. The Minister had written a request to the Leader of Government Business to have the Bill revived. The available information around the Bill was that the Leader of Government Business had received the request. Until the Bill can be passed, the Department is engaging with stakeholders and municipalities.

The Chairperson suggested it would be more appropriate to issue a directive to municipalities given the uncertainty around the Bill.

Mr Motlashuping said that COGTA had done that. Upon the Court making the 2011 Municipal Structures Amendment Bill invalid, COGTA issued a circular. Although municipalities had a different view from the Department’s interpretation, the Department obtained an legal opinion and used the 2014 regulations to implement the Bill. COGTA is currently in the process of issuing the second directive to municipalities.

Mr Hoosen requested a copy of the draft Municipal Demarcation Bill and Dr Naidoo said the Bill would be sent to the Committee Secretary that night.

Meeting adjourned.

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