Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality on response plans to COVID-19 & Petition; with Deputy Ministers

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

04 June 2020
Chairperson: Ms F Muthambi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs,4 June 2020

The Committee dealt with the petition submitted by the residents of Nellmapius Extension 22 and the City of Tshwane's Covid-19 response plan including the Hamaanskraal water crisis. Both of the Deputy Ministers of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs were in attendance.

The Committee was briefed by Ms M Tlou (ANC) on the concerns raised in the petition submitted by the residents of Nellmapius Extension 22. She highlighted the issue of cable theft, lack of food parcels provided during the lockdown, lack of electricity supply and lack of high schools in the area. Other concerns raised in the petition were the following:

  • Lack of priority given to the elderly and disabled when it comes to the allocation of housing;
  • Whether the allocation of housing was within reach of social and economic amenities as well as transport routes;
  • Whether the City of Tshwane has considered the provision of network aerials in the area;
  • What mechanisms have been in put place to prepare for the resumption of teaching and learning and;
  • How the issue of a mobile police station was being addressed.

Members raised concern that the issue of cable theft and illegal connection dates back many years ago and asked what crime prevention plan has been put in place to address it. On the 5% allocation of housing to the disabled and the elderly, members raised concern that the beneficiary list is a core function of the metropolitan and asked for clarity on why the 5% quota was not met. Members also raised concern on the lack of visible policing in the area, the unreliable electricity billing system, why some people received solar geysers and others didn’t, how many homeless people were sheltered, how the City dealt with homeless people who have drug addictions, the fact that people are not receiving food parcels because they have houses and the capacity of the food bank. Members raised concern that the provision of services must be accessible, convenient, of a certain quality and affordable for residents. On the lack of electricity, members asked what the status is because the contractor left the site 2 weeks ago and didn’t complete the project because he wasn’t paid. Members felt that the responses given by the City of Tshwane was unsatisfactory and asked for time-frames on when the issues raised in the petition would be resolved. Members asked the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements to explain the failure to provide electricity, clear timelines of when the work will resume and the completion date of the project. It was agreed that this response will be submitted to the Committee in writing.

The Committee was briefed by the City of Tshwane on its Covid-19 response plan. The presentation highlighted the City's pressure points as the following: there are 227 informal settlements, levels of homelessness and destitution, urban population densities, service levels in township areas and the infrastructure backlog. It also highlighted a number of identified challenges as the following: lack of a single cohesive vision, collapse of governance and administrative processes, alienation of communities from government, non-expenditure of grants and subsidies, neglected infrastructure, dysfunctional local labour forums, reduction in collection of revenue, lack of performance management, litigations and suspension and inefficient Inter-Governmental Relations processes. The revenue collection rate has gone down by almost R1 million from March to April and will be even lower in May and June. There is a shortage of cash needed to fill the collection rate. On the 2020/21 budget, the expenditure budget will have to be adjusted downwards. Capital expenditure, specifically revenue-generating projects, will have to be focused on to find other revenue streams. The additional Covid-19 related expenditure has made it very difficult to get back to a balanced budget. The City is going to battle to get to a funded budget and requests financial assistance from the provincial and national government.

The presentation also highlighted the Hamaanskraal water crisis. It indicated that the Rooiwal plant feeds into the Temba plant which distributes water to the communities. The City is lacking the capacity to ensure the project of the Rooiwal plant runs within the time frame and budget. There was non-performance in the project between August 2019 to March 2020 due to the fact that the City cancelled the contract and a court interdict barred any work from continuing on site. The contract has been reinstated and the contractor has been working on site since May 2020. The City has looked at biotechnology to run parallel to this process to ensure the quality of water meets the required standard. The Temba Water Purification Plant upgrade is complete and has been commissioned. Its capacity is able to provide drinkable water to the entire Hamaanskraal area as well as extended areas and there will be no need for water tanks. The plant still struggles with water quality issues due to high concentrations of ammonia, nitrate and nitrite. The quality of water is not meeting the required standard so alternative technological solutions will be outsourced to deal with the matter. Biotechnology and alternative technology is therefore also going to run parallel to the project in order to find a solution to the water quality issues.

Members raised concerns on the accountability of the administration when decisions are taken, the complete absence of leadership that caused challenges at the time the administration took over, whether residents are actually utilizing the Covid-19 helpline, the ability of the City to meet its obligations to service providers such as Eskom and Rand Water, lack of consequence management and whether the City has the irregularities in the supply chain management under control. Members asked for the number of homeless and destitute people, whether the homeless were being housed in shelters, whether they were being tested and what the post-Covid-19 plans are to help the homeless become active citizens in municipal programmes. Members also asked whether the City has a plan to deal with the non-expenditure of grants and subsidies, how many litigation cases it currently has and why there wasn’t a dedicated task team to deal with the Hamaanskraal water crisis. Other concerns raised was the publishing of the unfunded budget for public comment, the approval of the budget and appointment of people for tasks without council oversight, the capacity of Tshwane's food bank to assist needy residents and that the relief measures for residents and local businesses adversely affect the poorest of the poor and indigents. Members also asked how many taxi ranks and buses are in operation, whether they are sanitized and how the City plans to deal with commuters who ignore loading capacity limits. Members asked whether the City takes into account household size during its distribution process of chemical toilets, whether the cost of water includes non-revenue water and water tanks, whether there have been any engagements with the Independent Electoral Commission to prepare for an election, whether there have been any challenges with closing down City-owned clinics and the status of people who were displaced by floods and housed in churches. Members raised concern that the presentation was confusing and didn’t include details on the donation of Jojo tanks, the number of people who actually benefit from interventions and what the City's actual monthly costs are.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks

The Chairperson welcomed both of the Deputy Ministers of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) and the delegation of the City of Tshwane to the meeting. She noted apologies from the Director-General of COGTA, Mr M Hoosen (DA) and the MEC for Human Settlements, Urban Planning, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

The Chairperson said the City of Tshwane has been classified as a Covid-19 hotspot. It's unique from all of the other metropolitans because it's under administration in terms of section 139(1)(c) of the Constitution. This intervention has been highly contested both legally and politically. The presentation outlines the outcomes of the intervention. One of these outcomes is to reconnect the residents of Tshwane and to ensure there is provision of services to the people. This speaks directly to the petition of the Nellmapius residents which will be dealt with before the presentation. Ensuring that there is provision of services to the people means full compliance with section 152(1)(b) of the Constitution. The petitioners' complaints are centered around the lack of service delivery. There will also be an update on the Hamaanskraal water crisis which has been an issue for quite some time now. Another outcome of the intervention is to attend to this crisis. The Committee is mindful of the recent High Court judgment handed down on 29 April 2020 which states that the lack of provision of quality and sufficient water to the people of Hamaanskraal constitutes an unfulfilled executive obligation by the City of Tshwane. With Covid-19 in our midst, it's high time that the crisis ends so that people can have access to clean water.

The Chairperson lost connection and Mr B Hadebe (ANC) was asked to be Acting Chairperson until her connection was fixed.

Mr Hadebe apologised for the technical problem. He said the agenda of the meeting includes the following: an introduction to the Nellmapius petition by Ms M Tlou (ANC), response from the City of Tshwane, discussion by members, an update on the Hamaanskraal water crisis, presentation by the City of Tshwane on its Covid-19 response plan and discussion by members. He asked Ms Tlou to begin. 

Petition by the residents of Nellmapius Extension 22

Ms M Tlou (ANC) said the Committee is happy that the City of Tshwane delegation is here today to share its progress, views and challenges it faces. Everyone should always bear in mind that people are not fighting for ideas but for material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward and to guarantee the future of their children. The residents want decisive action against corruption so that all public resources are directed towards improving the quality of life for all citizens. The residents want transparent and accountable governance now and not tomorrow. In 2016, the partnership between the City of Tshwane and the Gauteng COGTA changed many lives in Nellmapius for the better. At that time, the City took a decision to allocate 5% of the units to people who fall under the category of special needs which is in line with the National Housing Code. This category includes the elderly and people with disabilities. The whole province rallied behind this because it restored the dignity of Nellmapius residents.

Ms Tlou said the Committee received a petition from the residents in Nellmapius Extension 22 which raised many grievances. Firstly, it stated that the aged and disabled have been a low priority and their special housing needs aren't adequately being catered for. It states that there is a high number of disabled people living in Nellmapius Extension 22. How is the City addressing this challenge? South Africa has taken on a strategy that underpins the value of a developmental approach to ensure the country becomes a whole for all who reside in it. The residents state there is a lack of electricity in the area. What is the City doing to address this? South Africa has embraced the fourth industrial revolution which provides opportunities to change how we live, work and communicate. Has the City taken into consideration the provision of network aerials to the community? There is a major issue of cable theft. The community didn't receive food parcels during the lockdown and many families went to bed without food. Why?

Ms Tlou said the municipalities and other entities involved in the provision of care and shelter should ensure that disabled and aged beneficiaries are allocated houses which are within reach of social and economic amenities and transport routes. How has this been taken care of by the City? Schools have to mold a diverse population into society with a shared national identity and prepare generations for the City's self-rule. The residents argue that this rule has been negated and led to a lack of high schools in the area. What is the City doing about this? Section 205(3) of the Constitution directs that the South African Police Service (SAPS) prevent, combat and investigate crime, maintain public order, protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property and to uphold and enforce the law. The residents are yearning for this right. What is the City's response on the issue of a mobile police station? On basic education, what are the mechanisms in place to prepare for the resumption of teaching and learning?

Mr Hadebe said 8 direct questions have been posed and asked the City of Tshwane to respond to them.

Mr Mpho Nawa, Lead Administrator, City of Tshwane, replied it's almost 65 days of lockdown in Tshwane now. The lockdown has put a constraint on the administration's work but it hasn’t stopped working on the issues raised. In the initial stages, the administration engaged with the police to work with them and seek cooperation throughout the City. There was also an opportunity to engage with the Minister of Police who referred the administration to the local police. The administration has had discussions with different leadership within the police to focus on ensuring order and safety in communities. On building a mobile police station, this is more of a national function but the administration is committed to working with all sectors of government to make this possible. It's the responsibility of the entire government, whether national, provincial or local, to work together to restore governance and stability in Tshwane. The administration met with the Minister of Police and has requested the structures at the local level to be part of the discussions. There hasn’t been an outreach programme where the administration has worked directly with the police because of the level 5 and 4 lockdown constraints.

Mr Nawa replied that the administration discussed the issue of schooling with the MEC for Social Development. It's only now at level 3 that the City must be part of localising the message of Covid-19 at the school level. Education might not be the function of the City but it has the responsibility to ensure that people have access to school and maintain social distancing. The administration is starting to localize the fight against Covid-19 with the children. It has also requested the police to enforce compliance at the level of school transport. There was never an effective relationship because of the lockdown. The focus has always been on how to internally restore governance to the City. It had an opportunity to participate in a school in Hamaanskraal during the lockdown because it partnered with an engineering company that donated water to the school. It visited the school to provide support so that a water plant could be created. There should be opportunities identified to work with schools and principals to localize the message of Covid-19. There has been limited engagement because of the lockdown but as the levels drop, the administration will be able to improve its communication and work function with both of the police and the education sectors.

An official explained that the City partnered with AECI that contributed 40 000 litres of water. The team has tested the water through the laboratories and the water has met the standards. There are a couple of schools which are benefitting as a result of this donation. As schools begin to open, the administration is working to ensure that schools have access to water.

Mr Mavela Dlamini, Acting City Manager, City of Tshwane, replied that the primary function of dispensing and allocating housing rests with the provincial government. The City is just a partner in ensuring the development takes place. It will forward the message to the province that the 5% quota should not be overlooked. On the electricity supply, the area is not informal. It has formal houses, tar roads and quite a number of services except there is no effective electricity distribution. There are 2 programmes being addressed in this month. The one programme consists of a bulk supply of electricity from Eskom. The contractor is signing off this month and is currently closing the connections for electricity in a part of Nellmapius. It won’t cover the entire area because the contract is to develop only a portion of the area. By the end of this month, 700 households will receive electricity. There is another process that is ongoing which is managed by the province. That area will be completed towards the end of the year. The reason for the delay was primarily because of a lack of infrastructure in some parts of the City. There are a few extensions that must still be developed in different phases. The problem of cable threat is serious and its prevalent throughout the City. Wherever services exist, even if the electricity is not connected, there are criminals that steal cables for copper recycling. The administration has recruited over 170 employees to enforce bylaws and assist with crime prevention. The problem of cable theft exists in a number of areas across the City as well as in other municipalities.

Mr Nawa said the administration went to Nellmapius today with the community of Mavuso Informal Settlement to deal with the issue of electricity. It's a serious matter because the informal settlement is illegally connected. Part of the discussion today was to figure out how to solve the problem in the best way and what other alternative energy can be provided. Both formal and informal residents are clashing over this problem. The administration spent the entire day talking to both communities because it has been a problem since 2016 and the City has not been able to respond to it. This is a matter that requires the police because it could get to a possibility where lives are lost. The City is currently going through budgetary processes and this will assist in resolving the problem.

Mr Dlamini said that Nellmapius Extension 22 is a formal township with formal structures. When Covid-19 hit, a number of residents had shelter, could socially distance and had water so there wasn’t an immediate need to put up shelters in the area. Those who were destitute and homeless were moved to temporary shelters. Since the area is a new development there might have been an expectation to provide additional support but shelter was only put up for people who were homeless or were in informal areas where there was overcrowding. On food parcels, this was provided to homeless people in partnership with the provincial government, Social Development cluster and non-governmental organisations. Food parcels were only delivered to those shelters where destitute people were placed and not necessarily in areas that have formal structures.  

The Chairperson asked members to raise follow-up questions.

Mr Hadebe said the responses indicated that the 5% allocation project remains with the province and a follow up with be made on this issue. Members thought that by now the beneficiary list would have been concluded and the 5% quota would have been taken care of in that list. Do you have the beneficiary list in place? If not, what is the delay and how soon do you anticipate that this matter will be taken care of? The issue of illegal connection dates back as far as 2016. Even though policing resides with the province, it's assumed that all metropolitans have a crime prevention plan in place. Do you have such a plan in the City of Tshwane? What does the plan entail in respect of responding to the illegal connection issue?

Ms H Mkhaliphi (EFF) asked what the reason is for the visit to the area. Is the reason the administrators visit the area because they didn’t know about the crisis or was the particular problem already known but the administrators wanted to satisfy themselves? What is the time frame of the plan to address the issues raised in the petition?

Ms P Xaba-Ntshaba (ANC) said the people of Tshwane have been crying about the issue of water for a long time. What is the plan in place to make sure people get food, water and resources? What is your plan for the people of Tshwane?

Mr G Mpumza (ANC) said members understand that national housing is a competence of the provincial and national governments but of critical importance is the beneficiary list. This list is a core function of the city. Members need clarity from the city why the 5% quota has not been met. The province receives the beneficiary list from the city. The national crime prevention strategy and the SAPS Act affords cities the ability to establish their own metropolitan police. Why is there no visibility of police to prevent and combat crime in Extension 22? Members didn’t receive an adequate response to this question. Why is the metropolitan not providing a mobile police station to ensure visibility as part of fighting crime in the area?

The Chairperson said the presentation indicates that the new development is going to have electricity when the contractor is finished at the end of this year and the other area will receive the provision of bulk electricity. There are 1330 Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) houses in this area. The petition states that communities have been complaining about this since 2016 and there are a lot of disabled people there. Out of the 1330 RDP houses, how many doesn’t have electricity? On the bulk supply, it sounds like the City is only going to do something once the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements (DHS) does but the City is also responsible. Can this be explained? It's all good and well to give people streets and housing but there is no electricity there. Does that mean the City is responsible for the newly formalised portion and not the other area? The people will continue to suffer continuously and indefinitely because there is no plan. The petition states that there was a contractor and as a result the communities hoped they would get electricity but the contractor has just left 2 weeks ago because he was not paid. He took all of the containers and equipment even though he had already started to install electricity. The communities are left in the dark again. What is the status on this? It doesn’t look like the City has this information at its disposal. The contractor left and that's what has caused the community to write the petition. They have also taken the matter to the Public Protector because of the issue of housing and contract management. Can members get feedback on this?

The Chairperson said if the City is able to build streets and install water then it must be able to install solar geysers. Why did only some people get solar geysers and others didn’t? It's causing confusion in the community. On food parcels, people are vulnerable and poor. Are you not giving them food because they have houses? Why didn’t you also allocate food to them? Members expected the City to have a food bank and to determine the processes for the distribution of food parcels. There are between 2000 to 3000 people living in the community. The mere fact that people are staying in RDP houses is because they are not working. Are they being punished because they are not in informal settlements? The City is saying that once it gives people houses it doesn’t care for them but they also deserve food parcels. On the mobile police station, this is part of City planning. What are the plans for this area? Is it part of your Integrated Development Planning (IDP)?

Ms Tlou asked for members to be provided with a timeframe on the implementation of the electric connections for the 700 households. The City needs to improve on the issue of a reliable billing system. It also needs to focus more on the basic principle of service delivery which is that all communities should have access to at least a minimum level of services that are rendered by the municipality. Most of the responses given are unsatisfactory. Municipalities should not only focus on the accessibility of services but also the convenience of it to be used by communities. It should also focus on affordability. Many services remain unaffordable for South Africans especially during this time of Covid-19. You need to come up with your own strategic plan of how to provide services to the people of Tshwane. As of now, people are still crying for food parcels. You need to talk and engage with the communities. The services rendered must also be of a certain quality. The low quality of services is a crisis in Tshwane. Communities in Winterveld are also dissatisfied about transport services. You need to attend to all of the people, sit with them and hear their problems so that you find a solution together. The Democratic Alliance (DA) has messed up Tshwane. The problems are real and its happening now as we speak.

Ms N Mokgethi (ANC; Gauteng Provincial Legislature) asked how many homeless people were sheltered and provided accommodation. What is happening with the food parcels that were distributed? Some of the homeless people have problems with drug addiction and experienced withdrawal symptoms. How did the City deal with that?

Mr Nawa replied that the City's attitude is not to overlook the challenges facing communities, especially those that are vulnerable. The entire administration team has been activated to respond to the challenges. The City is in the process of its budget and Investment and Implementation Plan (IPP). The emphasis is on how best the City can take care of those who are most vulnerable. The 5% of the housing project is allocated to people with disabilities, the elderly, child-headed households and military veterans. This is applied across all City projects. The housing policy was established to respond to the 5% allocation. Beneficiaries are prioritised based on the year of registration. If someone registered in the 90s they will be prioritised. This is to avoid people jumping the queue. There are 227 informal settlements in Tshwane. The City prioritises those who registered first. The National Housing Code also states that beneficiaries must have never owned a house before, be over 18 years old, able to enter into contracts and have dependents. When the administration arrived in the City, its focus was to look at what was in the public media, particularly the Mamelodi floods. With Covid-19 coming in as an issue, it had to give special attention to areas that were congested. It reports to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), the provincial executive and the Minister and will raise the issues in the petition. It visited the area today because yesterday there was an electricity trip and discomfort between people in the formal and informal settlements. Things were getting out of hand so the administrators visited the community to see how best it can restore order.

Ms Lebogang Mahaye, Administrator, City of Tshwane, said that the administration noticed the lack of capacity with respect to bylaw enforcement and the escalation of crime in the area. One of the interventions was to ensure the City appoints 169 new metropolitan police officers to capacitate the already existing number of officers and to curb the crime rate. The prevalence of cable theft in the City has affected its service delivery initiatives. It's an ongoing problem and the City isn’t able to reach all of the areas yet. It established a bylaw enforcement centre on 11 May 2020. Through the centre, the City works with internal stakeholders to deal with bylaw enforcement transgressions. From time to time it also undertakes operations with SAPS and other law enforcement agencies. In the long term the solution will be focused on investing in new technologies. The SAPS are able to detect when someone tampers with cables because a warning signal goes off. The City doesn’t have this technology yet so at the moment it's trying to make interventions with the few resources it has.

The Chairperson said if a project starts in one area and people are waiting 4 to 5 years for electricity, the City must foresee a disaster looming because the communities will definitely fight amongst themselves. The City is saying that the Gauteng DHS will provide the internal electricity network to the 1330 RDP houses and the 550 units for rental stock whereas the City will provide electricity to the newly formalised area. The petition speaks to the problem in the area of the 1330 RDP houses and 550 units for rental stock. These people have been occupying their houses since 2016. The province has provided houses for them but has failed to provide electricity. Some people don’t have solar geysers that were supposed to be installed. The issue is to reconcile what's being said by the City and what's contained in the petition. The petition states the contractor was on site since March and two weeks ago he packed up his things and left. Members aren’t hearing anything that shows a commitment on the part of the City. The City indicates this responsibility lies with the province. Can members get a response from the Gauteng DHS? The issue of the power stations has already been dealt with but what is outstanding is getting communities connected. Communities have tried several times with the City and the province and have been forced to write to the Committee. Who is responding from the Department and what are the plans?

Ms Itumeleng Mokate, Deputy Director-General: Local Governance, Gauteng Department COGTA, replied she doesn’t have the exact response at this point. She asked if she can follow up with her colleagues from the Gauteng DHS and provide written responses to the Committee.

The Chairperson said the matter needs to be processed and finalised. Can the written responses be provided by Tuesday next week at the latest? The majority of the people are sick, vulnerable, have disabilities and can't be kept in the dark indefinitely. This project had a lifespan. The contractor arrived and abandoned the project. This is not inspiring hope in the people at all.

Ms Mokate replied she tried to invite her colleagues from the Gauteng DHS to the meeting but she will follow up with them to make sure members are provided with a full response on the matter.

The Chairperson said the Gauteng DHS must provide a clear action plan and when the project is going to be completed and handed over to the communities. The written response must be sent to the Committee Secretary by Tuesday next week at the latest.

Ms Mokate replied she just received a response from her colleagues at the Gauteng DHS who have indicated that part of the challenge has been the lockdown but once it's lifted work will resume and the electrification project will continue. Members will still receive a full written response with timelines.

The Chairperson said the written response must contain clear timelines of when work will resume and the completion date of the project. The Committee can't allow people to suffer. It will perform oversight until people receive the necessary electricity they need. The City must focus on this area and work jointly with the province so that the matter can be finalised. The City is going to proceed to service the other area which is within the same vicinity and this will cause serious challenges. Can you begin the presentation and deal with the Hamaanskraal matter as well?

Briefing by City of Tshwane on its Covid-19 response plan

Mr Nawa said the City of Tshwane has a Covid-19 helpline. The City's pressure points are the following: there are 227 informal settlements, levels of homelessness and destitution, urban population densities, service levels in township areas and infrastructure backlog. Tshwane has 7 regions and 983 water tanks were provided in total. A number of water tanks that are operational were donated. The de-population plan in Mamelodi Hostel consists of depopulating 1000 people into temporary arrangements. This project has started and will be launched soon. The City has also put money aside to purchase pieces of land for the project.

Mr Dlamini said there are a number of challenges that were identified. When the administration came in there wasn’t a single cohesive vision. For example, the City decided to develop the north area but the infrastructure investment didn’t reflect this. This is also the reason why there is bad infrastructure when it comes to the delivery of water because the region wasn’t planned out well. Another challenge is the collapse of governance. There was no adequate oversight over management and as a result, the ability to provide services that communities need falls apart too. The administrative processes need to be sorted out. The City is alienated from the communities. There is no formal structure that keeps an ongoing interaction between the City and the communities. Instead there is only informal structures that are not as effective. There is a history of non-expenditure on grants and this is purely a matter of inadequate planning to execute programmes. This is a major weakness in the system.

Mr Dlamini said there is neglected infrastructure because it was not maintained. Reports indicate that it was supposed to be done years ago yet it's still unresolved. The administration is going to try and recover as much of the infrastructure that is already there. It's better to recover it than to wait and start from scratch because this will be expensive. There are dysfunctional internal local labour forums that are supposed to create a dialogue between the City, managers and employees. Tensions have been sitting for a long time. This was solved by throwing money at the problem rather than negotiating it properly. There is a reduction in the collection of revenue and this decline has been over a long period of time. There is excessive litigation where too many cases are brought to court because of inadequate management in the City. Where the City can settle it considers this but there is too much public money being spent defending the City in court. There is also ineffective Inter-Governmental Relations (IGR) processes. In several cases, the City applied for an exemption but the other sphere of government doesn’t understand the pressure point. The City is told to follow due process and this delays its ability to resolve problems. All of these challenges lead to inadequate service delivery.

Ms Rianda Kruger, Administrator, City of Tshwane, said the revenue collection rate has gone down by almost R1 billion from March to April. The projection is that collections will be even lower in May and June. At the end of March, an economic study was done to determine what the outlook would be for collections. There is a shortage of cash needed to fit the collection rate. The City is in the process of looking at its 2020/21 budget and it has already been published for public participation. In order to accommodate the lower collection levels, the 2020/21 expenditure budget will have to be adjusted downwards. Capital expenditure, specifically revenue-generating projects, will have to be focused on to find other revenue streams. The draft budget for 2020/21 indicates that the total revenue will be R29 million. The 70% forecast of collection means only R20 million will be collected and the 80% forecast means only R23 million will be collected. All of the metropolitans are sitting in the same position but it shows that the City needs to work on its expenditure as well as its revenue-generating streams. With Covid-19, the additional expenditure has made it very difficult to get back to a balanced budget. The City can't afford to let any services not be paid for so it has implemented relief measures that delay payments for residents and local businesses. Through this, the City can try to recover some of the debt. A discount is given to residents if they pay their full first 12 months and 100% of the interest is reversed. The City requests financial assistance from the provincial and national government. In the current year the City is likely to end in a deficit. In the 2020/21 budget, the revenue and expenditure are going in different directions and it means the City is going to battle to get to a funded budget.

Mr Gilberto Martins, Administrator, City of Tshwane, said the Rooiwal plant feeds into the Temba water plant which then distributes water to the Hamaanskraal communities. Whatever work is done at Rooiwal directly impacts the communities. The operation of the Rooiwal plant consists of 4 phases and the key role players have already been appointed. The first appointment is ERWAT, a water resource company that will be the implementing agent. The City is lacking the capacity to ensure the project is run within the time frame and the budget. The project started in August last year but there was a dispute and the City cancelled the contract. A court interdict was put in place that prevented any work from being done. In March of this year, the court indicated that the contractor must be reinstated and the work can continue. The time lost between August and March was not due to non-performance but rather due to a court interdict and the cancellation of the contract by the City.

Mr Martins said the contract has been reinstated and since May the contractor has been on site doing the work. All community related matters have been resolved through the MEC's office and community participation. All contractors and consultants have been appointed for the various work streams. Phase 1 consists of a 24-month contract and is currently underway. The City has asked the contractor to see if he can make up for lost time and requested him to realign his work to ensure that the community benefits as soon as possible. The City has looked at biotechnology to run parallel to this process to ensure the quality of water meets the required standard. Phase 1 will continue while the plant is operational. It’s a very delicate operation to ensure that the flow of water to the communities is not disrupted. The Temba water plant has been upgraded but the problem is that the quality of water is not meeting the required standard. Biotechnology and alternative technology is also going to run parallel to the project to assist with the required quality of water.

Mr Lefadi Makibinyane, Administrator, City of Tshwane, said the Temba plant provides drinkable water to the people of Hamaanskraal. If the quality of the water is sorted out then there will be no need for water tanks. The capacity is sufficient to cover the entire Hamaanskraal area as well as extended areas. The City is currently trying to find an alternative solution to ensure that nitrate, nitrite and ammonia is removed from the water. This is the actual problem that’s affecting the standard of the drinkable water. The plant has been commissioned. A diagnostic report of the plant itself has been done to ensure deficiencies are picked up on and optimized in the meantime. The report has been completed and distributed internally to plan the way forward. It contains positive findings and this will be augmented by the alternative technology solution that is going to be outsourced.

The Chairperson asked members to raise questions.


Ms Xaba-Ntshaba said there are many problems in Tshwane and some of them are not included in the presentation. One of them is the pastor of a church who took in victims of a flood. The pastor was crying and saying that no one is looking after these victims. Why does the presentation not include this? What has happened to these people? Are they included in the de-population plan? What are the depopulated structures? Are these people who are staying in the church included in the 227 informal settlements? If not, why? The presentation also doesn’t speak to the donation of Jojo tanks, it only speaks to the donation of water tanks. Why is this not included? Did the City not receive any Jojo tanks? If these tanks were received, are they full of water to help people in need to adhere to the Covid-19 regulations?

Mr C Brink (DA) said it's a worrying presentation for the administrators and even more worrying for the councilors who will resume control of the City. There is quite a bit of legal and political controversy surrounding the administration. Section 139(1)(c) of the Constitution envisages the election of a municipal council within 90 days of the City being placed in administration. It is now day 65 but Covid-19 has happened and there is also a court case which the provincial government is appealing. This court case will determine a lot of things. If the province wins its appeal and the High Court ruling is overturned, what is the state of readiness for an election? What sort of engagements have been had with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to prepare for an election? Section 139(1)(c) wasn’t intended to allow a provincial administration to go as long as it has but there may be exceptional circumstances such as Covid-19. It's particularly worrying that in the meantime budgets are being approved and people are being appointed for tasks. The appointment of people is a concern in itself given the financial situation. All of these things are happening without council oversight. This raises the concern of a lack of representative democracy. The longer the administration continues the worse it will get for the issues of oversight and governance.

Mr Brink said the crux of the presentation is the unfunded budget. It states that in order to accommodate the lower collection levels, the expenditure budget will have to be adjusted downwards. The lockdown and the effect on payment levels also plays a role but the problem is that this budget has already gone out for public participation. Essentially, an unfunded budget is now open for comment by the public. Members could have understood if the budget went out at the beginning of April or at the end of March but it went out on 19 May. At this time, the City should have at least known the effect of Covid-19 on revenue collection levels. How are you going to deal with that? It’s a requirement for the City to have a balanced budget. What is the thinking and what's going to be done? Some sort of a new budget will have to be prepared.

Mr Brink said the lockdown is going to have a terrible effect on households and household income. What is the capacity of Tshwane's food bank to assist needy residents? How many can be assisted in a particular month? What has been budgeted for? It appears there has been a special adjustment budget approved by the administrators. Is it sufficient? The endemic issue of irregularities in supply chain management affects the water problem. It's almost a disease in local government but its particularly problematic and historical in Tshwane. Have the administrators assured themselves that the irregularities in supply chain and tenders are now under control? It's caused delays not only in terms of Rooiwal and the water crisis but in general too. Have you got a handle on the supply chain division? If you don’t then Rooiwal is just going to continue to be a problem.

Mr Hadebe said members know there are ongoing court cases relating to the administration. Government is affected by the Covid-19 pandemic but life for ordinary community members in Tshwane need to continue and service delivery has to be provided. Priority needs to be given to the poor and the disadvantaged. The presentation failed to provide members with detailed information on the taxi ranks. How many taxi ranks are there in the City? How many are still operational and how often are they sanitized and disinfected? How many buses do you have, how many are in operation and how often do you disinfect them? We are now in the winter season and the pandemic will spread rapidly under these weather conditions. What type of shelter do you provide for homeless people? In other areas, tents have been provided but it's not adequate or suitable housing under the pandemic and weather conditions. Is the door to door testing programme still ongoing? How many tests are conducted daily? On clinics that are owned by the City, how many are in operation? Are there any challenges? Other cities have had to close down several clinics due to Covid-19. Is Tshwane facing the same challenge? On the 2020/21 budget process, how far are you with the process given the fact that the budget and financial year under review will expire soon? Are all of the processes well ahead or are there any challenges?

Ms Mkhaliphi said the administration consists of a team of 10 people. Who does the team account to when decisions are taken? The administration is empowered but to who is it accountable to? On the provision of water and sanitation, the total number of water tanks distributed to informal settlements is confusing and does not add up. Is this a mistake in the presentation? There are 227 informal communities but only 983 water tanks are distributed. How do you ensure that there are 345 710 total households in the City? Members don’t know the population of this area, particularly informal settlements where the provision of water is critical under Covid-19. How do you distribute the water tanks across the regions? How do you know how many people are getting help through this intervention? On the provision of chemical toilets, what happened to the remainder? What is happening with the presentation? Was it made in a rush? If you come to account to the Committee you must have information that is well presented. Many people don’t have chemical toilets because of the sewerage system. What is the long-term plan to address this? Covid-19 is pushing members to make sure the lives of people on the ground are taken care of.

Ms Mkhaliphi noted the payment holidays and relief measures provided to residents and local businesses. The administration team are professionals but do they also have a sense of activism? The payment options don’t speak directly to the poorest of the poor. We are in a situation where people are struggling and losing jobs. Some lost their jobs before Covid-19. There needs to be interventions on a case by case basis that address the issue of people who are not going to be able to afford services. You are not zooming in on the problem that needs to be addressed in order to make sure people don’t suffer. This issue was raised by the Committee to all of the other municipalities and Tshwane is the only city that has come up with payment plans and an intervention strategy. The City must take into account that small businesses are going to lose income and the poorest of the poor are not going to be able to pay for services. People have lost their jobs and even more are still going to lose their jobs because of Covid-19. Its progressive to put plans in place but it does not talk directly to the situation. The City must revisit it by establishing a structure where people who are losing their income can come forward and this information is put on a database. Interventions must then be based on this information. You must intervene very genuinely if you want to achieve goals.

Mr Mpumza noted the high-level assessment of challenges in the presentation. It indicates that the authority of the City was on the brink of implosion. Where was the leadership in the City at all levels, both administrative and political? The intervention of section 139(1)(c) seems justifiable because there was not only the absence of executive cushion but a complete absence of leadership. Can the administration assure the Committee that it will provide the very necessary strategic leadership that has been absent? The presentation indicates that revenue collection is declining and this will persist up to May and June. He noted the mitigation measures of providing tax holidays to residents and businesses. As you provide these measures to cushion the disruption of a contracting economy on its residents, where are the measures that would assist the indigents so that the poorest of the poor are not adversely affected? There must be some form of redress and relief for the poor. On the Covid-19 helpline, are residents fully utilizing the helpline? Is the increase in volume of calls in response to the declaration of the City of Tshwane as a Covid-19 hotspot? Households differ in size, ranging from 1 to 10 persons per household. This could be a health hazard in the provision of chemical toilets. Has the City actually taken that into consideration in the distribution of chemical toilets? How often are the toilets being cleaned other than twice a week? The cost of water up to date is almost R5 million. Does this include non-revenue water and the cost of water tanks?

Ms Tlou noted the Covid-19 helpline. Can the City provide assurance to members that residents are actually utilizing the helpline? Has there been an increase in the volume of calls following the declaration of the metropolitan as a Covid-19 hotspot? The cost of water supplied to date amounts to around R5 million. From when does this amount start? Does it include non-revenue water and the cost of water tanks and mobile tankers? To what extent has the City reported that its revenue collection rate in April 2020 will affect its ability to meet its obligations to service providers like Eskom and Rand Water? What is the impact of the metropolitan's debts on service delivery? Household size ranges from 1 person to 10 people or more. This has health implications when it comes to the use of chemical toilets. How does the City address the problem in the distribution process? Is cleaning and maintaining the toilet twice a week the only remedy or is there any other mechanism you can bring in to improve that? A community group stopped working at one of the municipal sites. Why? How many community groups are involved and what is the subject matter of the City's consultations with the group?

Ms Tlou said the administration's high-level assessment indicates a number of challenges that have led to the collapse of the metropolitan under the leadership of the DA. Why is there no mention of consequence management for managers to go through Strategic Performance Management processes? There are repeat findings by the Auditor-General (AG) and poor service delivery. What about consequence management? On the provision of water and sanitation, the total number of households is 345 710 but the City needs R290 million per month to provide food parcels for 500 000 households. What accounts for the extra 154 290 households? How does the City intend to deal with the problem of commuters who disobey regulations and force themselves into buses ignoring the loading capacity limit? It's not enough for the administrators to decry the matter in the media and call for an increase in the number of buses. This is a law enforcement issue as much as it is a bus shortage issue. The City must also engage the metropolitan police in this regard.

Ms Mokgethi asked if the homeless are still housed in the shelters. If they are, are they being tested? On the non-expenditure of grants and subsidies due to inadequate planning, this is service delivery denied to the people. Does the administration have a plan to deal with it? On the draft Service Level Agreement (SLA) of ERWAT, members were told last year in September that this agreement was already signed but the presentation indicates that it has only now been submitted for approval. What is the timeframe when the SLA will be signed? The City is thanked for dealing with the issue of litigation because this is a burning issue for the Committee.

Ms F Opperman (DA) noted the litigation issue. How many cases does the City currently have and what are the reasons for them? How will you mitigate the additional Covid-19 cost challenges keeping in mind that you currently have an unfunded budget? How much did you receive from the National Treasury (NT) and what are your actual monthly costs? On the AG's report on supply chain management, what consequence measures have been put in place to recover the lost money? On the revenue collection rate, how is it affecting the City's ability to pay its service providers like Eskom and Rand Water? How is it impacting on the metropolitan's debts?

Mr K Ceza (EFF) said houses are just being built without infrastructure. The communities have always provided a solution in community meetings. In such meetings, it's always said that there's no way the state has the capacity to keep people in check, due to its other duties and bring about capacity in terms of infrastructure. Do you have measures or plans in place to move in the direction of building in-house capacity to build infrastructure like churches, recreational centres and sports grounds before houses are erected? If that’s the case, how are you going to source money to actually put the measures in place? Are you planning to have a construction company in the City so that you can source workers and build internal capacity to ultimately do away with tenders? Do you have any plans towards that move? On the homeless people, does the City have post-Covid 19 measures in place to ensure that the homeless are not only temporarily housed and fed but provided with the required skills to encourage them to be active citizens and form part of municipal programmes that deal with potholes and other issues pertaining to infrastructure?

The Chairperson said there were people who were displaced in December 2019 and housed in a church in Mamelodi. The Premier and the MEC went there several times to make commitments but when the national disaster was declared in March the people were still housed in the church. Can the DHS provide the Committee with an update on this? Members need to be provided with a full written progress report indicating the status of those people. Members received unconfirmed reports that the Minister of Water and Sanitation provided Jojo thanks and water tankers so the City has decided not to do anything because the national department is doing something. How true are these allegations? On the pressure point of homelessness and destitution, do you have a post-Covid-19 plan? How many people have you attended to? How many are homeless and destitute? Do you have the numbers to share with us? There is an explicit reference to a homeless task team but there is no equivalent task team dedicated to the Hamaanskraal water crisis. Why is this not included in the City's organogram? The provision of quality and efficient water is central to the City's effective Covid-19 response plan.

Mr Nawa replied that when the administration took over, it found the City in a deep financial crisis. There was R6.9 billion unauthorized, fruitless and wasteful expenditure. This evidence is found in the AG's report. The administration personally went to the church to see what the needs of the victims are. The pastor creates an impression that the City is disengaged but it has agreed with the Housing Development Agency (HDA) to procure land for the people and to move them there at the end of July. The City manages all of the communities. The year of registration is the particular process that is followed to cover all of the people in a systematic way. Jojo is actually a brand name. The presentation refers to water tanks rather than brands. Chemical toilets are cleaned twice a week so that there is a consistent approach.

Ms Kruger replied that the first thing the administration had to do was to approve and put out the 2020/21 budget and IDP for public participation. It doesn’t reflect the Covid-19 expenditure but the administration is currently looking at how to rework the budget so that it becomes realistic. The City will never approve an unfunded budget and neither will the NT. It's a difficult financial situation where the collection rate has gone down and expenditure has gone up. There's a lot of fixed expenditure in terms of salaries and collective agreements that have to be honoured. The request for assistance from provincial and national government is for funding that the City needs. On the incentive programme, the City listens to its residents and businesses and this is exactly what they asked for. The poorest of the poor will still be dealt with through the indigent policy. Advertisements on radio stations encourage people who can't pay accounts to register under the policy. This allows the City to deal with people on a one-on-one basis. The indigent programme includes double the amount of kilolitres of water, full service of refuse and property rights for free. For normal households and those who can still afford to pay, the City has to start competing for disposal incomes and look at its cash flow. If the City lends money, the interest rate will be higher than the cost run through the incentive programme. On the food bank, the provincial Department of Social Development deals with this and the City helps them. When looking at the indigent register, people needed assistance so the City came up with the amount of R290 million per month but it cannot afford this. On the City's liabilities, all of them have been paid already except for the Eskom account which is only payable towards the end of next week. The City is currently meeting all of its obligations when it comes to service providers. The residents are complaining about service delivery and it brings into question whether the City should have spent the cash reserves on service delivery.

Ms Shiva Makotoko, Administrator, City of Tshwane, replied all of the 7 regions of the City were affected by floods but region 2, 4 and 6 were affected the most. The largest portion and oldest settlements reside in Mamelodi. The City's strategy seeks to resolve areas of Mamelodi and region 2 and 4. It has acquired land which is funded from the reprioritisation of the Urban Settlements Development Grant. There are also a number of other projects outside Mamelodi. Through the HDA, the City has acquired portions of land to help with the Mamelodi flood victims and with the process to de-densify. The plan is in place and people will start being moved at the end of June. There is no chance the City can go out with an unfunded budget. The impact of Covid-19 and the economic downturn is going to burden the City so there are very specific plans to support township economies and to bring marginalized communities into the mainstream economy. This information will be provided as soon as the budget process is finalised. The allocation of beneficiaries is managed by the City but approved by the province. There is an Allocation Committee who works with community leaders to produce a clear list.

Mr Martins replied there are 43 taxi ranks in the city and 34 of them are City-owned. There is a full sanitization and deep cleaning programme. They are sanitized twice a week. All buses are sanitized daily and hand sanitizers are placed inside. Those who don’t wear a mask aren't let inside. There is social distancing in place and seats are demarcated. Standing commuters are also not allowed. The City has downscaled the number of buses but this has been reviewed under level 3. There are 36 buses and 40 buses provided to transport essential workers. They operate from 6am-6pm and all routes are operational. There were 2 incidents where commuters didn’t comply but it was addressed by law enforcement. The ERWAT SLA has been signed and can be made available to the Committee. The individual SLA for phase 1 of Rooiwal is being developed. The required documentation for all consultants under phase 1 have been completed. Rooiwal is regarded as an essential service. All of the drivers licensing centres have been opened.

An official replied the problems of supply chain management are historical. The City has developed a post-audit plan which it is currently implementing. This plan includes the issues raised in the AG's report. On consequence management, officials were suspended before the administration came in but as the team arrived, those suspended came back to work. The City is addressing this issue and to finalise their cases. The City is currently addressing the issues of whether people possess the requisite qualifications, expertise and experience, the redesign of work flows and systems.

Mr Makibinyane replied that the figures in the presentation are correct. Out of the water tanks, 492 were provided by the City and 578 were provided by the national government. All 492 are operational and 401 out of the 578 are operational.

Mr Dlamini replied that the process of when by-elections take place is managed and controlled by the IEC. The IEC has a decision to defer all elections until after mid-July at which stage the situation will be reassessed on whether an election can take place. The matter is outside the control of the administrator's team. Members are encouraged to make inputs on the unfunded budget and how best to balance it. In June, the City has to approve a balanced budget. In order to meet the demands of the City, additional income is needed, whether this takes place in the form of grants or revenue-generating streams. The call centre is up and running and the statistics on the volume of calls can be provided to members. The allegation is not true and all the water tanks are running. On litigation, there is R5.2 billion quantum in liabilities. Most of the cases are because the City didn’t follow due process in supply chain management and others are about terminating contracts without following due process. Cases are coming up every day and the number of them can be made available to members.

Ms Mahaye replied there are 24 clinics which are operational and because they are essential services they have never been closed. There are also 3 mobile clinics catering to the remote areas of the City. There are 23 homeless shelters out of which 8 are managed by the City. The other 15 are co-managed with non-governmental organisations. 3 meals per day are provided. Some are addicted to drugs so the City has partnered with the University of Pretoria to assist with medication that helps with withdrawal symptoms. The City performs screening on a regular basis. The food bank assists a number of indigents. The food parcels remain the responsibility of the provincial Department of Social Development. The City only plays a supporting role. It has also received food donations.

Mr Ceza said his question about post-Covid-19 measures for homeless people was not answered.

Ms Mahaye replied that the shelters are temporary and not meant to be permanent. There is a programme to reconcile the homeless with their families, particularly those addicted to drugs. The City is working closely with social workers on this. Some shelters are in the form of tents and these will have to be taken down as the lockdown restrictions are lifted. The City is busy with the programme of providing the homeless with Identity Documents and jobs.

Mr Nawa replied the administration is accountable to the Minister and provides a monthly report. It's also accountable to the NCOP, National Assembly and to the people of Tshwane. The City is sensitive to the poor when it comes to incentive programmes. Post-Covid-19 there will be a response to encourage small businesses and informal traders to contribute to the economy. Small businesses should be given preference when it comes to tenders. The procurement process might move in a direction to help small traders and to remove it from those who have monopolized it over a period of time.

The Chairperson noted that there were 3 follow-up questions.

Mr Brink said it's disappointing to say that the IEC has postponed everything. This is not an ordinary by-election, it’s a massive operational undertaking. Covid-19 and the lockdown is not going to last forever. Usually the municipal manager is the municipal electoral officer so the response given is disappointing. The problem is that the City has published an unfunded budget, attached to an IDP, for public participation. The result is that the budget that will eventually be adopted is completely different than the one presented to the residents of Tshwane. It makes that entire exercise almost meaningless. What is the next step going to be? Is the budget going to be revised and republished for public comment or is it just going to be left in its current form? The City is not issuing rate clearance certificates and city planning offices don’t seem to be open. This is a good way of kick-starting revenue again and getting the economy going. Officials are allowed to occupy the offices under level 3 to look at building plans and issue certificates.

Ms Mkhaliphi said the previous administration was accused of not servicing the poorest of the poor. This new administration must leave a clear legacy as the interim interveners that helped the poor. Good professionals can balance Covid-19 and service delivery as priorities. You can't ignore the fact that service delivery is lacking. There are so many potholes not being attended to as well as the issue of cutting grass and lack of electricity. Let your legacy speak for itself.

Mr Hadebe said the administration must be applauded for the good work it has done. Can clarity be provided on the crime prevention plan as it relates to the enforcement of social and physical distancing in informal settlements?

Ms Kruger replied that the budget that’s out for public participation is not an unfunded budget. The City is working to get to a budget that is funded and can be approved for next year.

Mr Dlamini replied the administration takes the service delivery component of its work as the highest priority. Under lockdown, the maintenance and infrastructure of roads was not considered an essential service. Now that the country is under level 3, the City can get back to repairing potholes, cutting grass and providing services.

Ms Mahaye replied the enforcement of strict observation to the lockdown regulations in informal settlements is a continued challenge. The City is continuing with public awareness programmes and the deployment of metropolitan police officers. As the City starts to move people to new areas, there will be policing to ensure the old areas don’t get occupied again and there is no regression. The City does have a crime prevention strategy that guides it on how to implement bylaws. 

The Chairperson said the Minister will be briefing the Committee on the interventions. The written report must be sent by Tuesday and the other information promised on the call centre statistics must also be provided to the Committee Secretary. The bottom line is that members want the City to deliver services to the most vulnerable. There will be ongoing engagement and members will interact with the City on a regular basis.

The meeting was adjourned.



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