The Department of Local Government briefed the Committee in a virtual meeting on the 2018 audit outcomes of municipalities in the Western Cape, and the corrective measures at underperforming municipalities.
It highlighted some of the initiatives it had undertaken in order to strengthen oversight and governance at the provincial and municipal level. Some of these were transversal, while others were municipality-specific. It had developed a Western Province monitoring and evaluation system which included data about all the municipalities, and was moving towards evidenced-based, data-driven decision-making.
The Department described the diagnostic assessment that was done in order to understand the high-level operations of a municipality as a whole. It also went into detail about some of its interventions in the municipalities, up to and including financial support.
Members wanted to know why the Department had intervened in the municipalities to the extent that it had. What was the root cause of the problem? They also asked about the municipalities’ key performance appraisals, as well as the challenges that were being encountered.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone and reminded them that the current meeting was a continuation of the one held 14 July.
Municipal Audit Outcomes (2018/19)
Ms Eda Barnard, Chief Director: Municipal Performance Monitoring and Support, Western Cape Department of Local Government (DLG), said the Department had developed the Western Cape monitoring and evaluation system, which would include data about all provincial departments. This was part of an ongoing process towards the creation of a single repository of knowledge.
The DLG was driving knowledge management and data governance at the provincial and municipal level through an “intelligence platform”. This was because the Department was moving towards evidence-based, data-driven decision-making.
The municipal governance intelligence platform aimed to provide an operational and executive view of the status of municipalities and the province using synthesised intelligence and processes.
She explained how the platform would process collected data into information that became the knowledge that would eventually lead to the required action. The same system that was being used to monitor Covid-19 hotspots was the one that would be used for the platform.
The diagnostic assessment was done in order to obtain a better understanding of the high-level functioning of the municipality as a whole, and there was draft a support package that took into account what was working well, areas for improvement, and areas that required attention.
A multi-disciplinary team conducted interviews across all business units of a municipality, also collecting information and relevant documents. The result was a status report for the municipality, with key findings that could be used to identify areas that required immediate internal action or further support by provincial and national departments.
Provincial support efforts for municipalities were aimed at strengthening Council oversight, governance and service delivery in municipalities. The support initiative would be transversal -- cutting across spheres government -- or specific in nature.
The transversal support initiatives included reviews of by-laws and rules of order, municipal public accounts committee (MPAC) establishment and training, and focused councillor training. She said 234 councillors had attended the training.
Initiatives in support of governance included 22 municipal officials who had successfully completed the accredited middle management training, as well as shared services. She also spoke about the basic service delivery initiatives and information communication technology (ICT), and how information technology was no longer about how one operated, but was also an enabler.
She said the aim of municipal-specific support initiatives was to develop a comprehensive, holistic support package for municipalities where this may be required, such as the Back to Basics programme. This initiative was also different, because the municipal leadership played a more active role in the processes. A list of completed initiatives was shown
Ms Barnard said Kannaland Municipality was the only municipality currently under a Section 139 intervention. The provincial Executive had assumed responsibility for the implementation of the approved financial recovery plan. An administrator had been appointed to implement the financial recovery plan. The municipality was making good progress in implementing the plan, and relative stability had returned to the municipalities.
Regarding financial support to municipalities, the following grant funds were allocated to improve infrastructure systems, corporate governance and service delivery:
- Municipal Service Delivery Fund and Capacity Building Grant (R18.1 million);
- Western Cape Interventions Management Grant (R4.8 million);
- Municipal Drought Relief Grant (R8.4 million).
Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) asked why it was necessary for the Department to intervene so much. He wanted to know what the root problem was.
Ms N Makamba-Botya (EFF) asked about the municipalities’ key performance appraisals. What were some of the challenges when it came to compliance or non-compliance?
Ms Barnard said the system was an electronic one that was built on a number key performance indicators based on the functional areas.
Regarding the issue of intervention, she said the stronger the systems and processes in a municipality, the more it could withstand instability. It was not a first or easy choice to intervene, but this needed to be done to ensure municipalities were able to execute their functions.
Ms Makamba-Botya requested a scorecard from the Department, because she wanted clarity on where the challenges were when it came to achieving what was required on the scorecard.
Ms Barnard said the scorecard could be provided for the Committee.
Mr Van der Westhuizen asked what the source of instability would be, if the Western Cape municipalities were considered to be some of the most stable.
Ms Barnard said this was cyclical, and coincided with the nearing of the election cycle. Municipalities were experiencing more pressure from communities. This resulted in municipalities walking a tightrope between serving the needs of the community and as well as making sure it could afford to do so. The way of the future was to do more with less.
Adoption of Committee documents
The following documents were proposed for consideration and adoption:
- Minutes of the meeting held on 19 May;
- Minutes of the meeting held on 14 July;
- Minutes of the meeting held on 28 July.
- The Committee tracking document
The minutes were adopted together with the Committee Report.
The Committee resolved to request a copy of the scorecard that reflected the key performance appraisals for all municipalities, as well as the key performance indicators (KPIs) that were commonly not adhered to by the municipalities.
It requested that the Department report back regarding the effects of five-year contracts on local government.
The Department should check if any studies had been done on ways and means to attract and retain excellent talent in municipal administration.
The Committee requested that the Department inform the Committee about the financial challenges posed by the rapid rate of urbanization in the Western Cape.
The meeting was adjourned.
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