Status of S100 intervention: North West provincial government briefing; with Deputy Ministers
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
26 August 2020
Chairperson: Ms F Muthambi (ANC)
Video: Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, 26 August 2020
The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs was briefed by officials from the North West provincial government in a virtual meeting. The North West Premier, MECs for Health, Education, Finance and Social Development as well as both of the Deputy Ministers of the National Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs were in attendance. Members raised concern about the Minister's absence and failure to brief the Committee on the Section 100 intervention in the North West. Members expressed concern about the delay in compiling the report to the National Council of Provinces.
The Committee was briefed by the North West Department of Health, Education, Social Development and Finance on its Covid-19 response plans. The presentations highlighted the possibility of a second surge of infections and the need for the response plans to cater for this. On Health, it was explained that the focus is on bed capacity and availability of ventilators. Community behaviour remains a challenge in enforcing people to social distance, wear masks and ensure hand hygiene. On Education, it was highlighted that the lack of water has an impact on schools as a whole and that some learners in rural areas don’t have access to Wi-Fi and will fall behind as a result of this. Members were told that the differentiated timetable is being implemented and security remains a priority due to disruptions caused by the Congress of South African Students. On Social Development, the following challenges were highlighted: gender-based violence cases taking a long time to be processed and concluded by law enforcement agencies and providing food to everyone during the lockdown. On Finance, members were told that the second publication of the Covid-19 response expenditure report will be provided to them. The Committee was also briefed on the progress of Section 139 interventions in various municipalities. The presentation highlighted that municipalities in general are in dire conditions and are found waiting when it comes to fulfilling their constitutional mandate. A number of problems remain at the forefront of government's developmental challenges. These problems include service delivery backlogs where municipalities are not budgeting for the maintenance of infrastructure when it comes to water and sanitation, poor accountability relationships between municipalities and communities and allegations of corruption and fraud that aren’t being investigated. Some interventions didn’t run its course due to court cases and ongoing hostility between municipalities and administrators. The total amount spent on interventions over the last three years is R35 million.
Members raised concern about the high failure rate of Section 139 interventions in the North West province and asked why it was still being used if municipalities were worse off as a result of it. Members asked the province why it was not using Section 139(1) (c) as the preferred alternative to Section 139(1) (b). Members asked for clarity on the Section 100 intervention and asked whether the province had the requisite capacity to assist the dysfunctional municipalities. Members asked how administrators are appointed, their required qualifications and skills and how long an administrator should be in place for. Members raised concern on the high number of fruitless, wasteful and unauthorized expenditure, the looting, fraud and corruption in municipalities and asked what steps were being taken against those implicated. Other concerns raised were the following: gender-based violence statistics, the use of pit toilets in schools, lack of infrastructure and shortage of staff in hospitals and clinics, lack of water and sanitation in informal settlements as well as schools and hospitals, shortage of medication and lack of electricity in clinics and schools. Members raised concern that municipalities do not comply with legislation, the lack of functional boreholes in rural communities and asked whether there were public awareness campaigns in rural areas. Members also raised concern on selective interventions in the province, terms of reference that are not in line with the law, administrators who assume the responsibility of the bank accounts of municipalities and asked why administrators who had previous records of fraud were allowed to assume such responsibilities. The Committee asked for a detailed analysis of all the municipalities placed under Section 139, the status of their implementation, action plans and financial recovery plans.
Opening Remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson welcomed Committee Members, the Premier and the entire delegation from the North West provincial government to the meeting. He said that Members will be briefed on the province's response plans to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Committee Secretary received the provincial treasury presentation on Covid-19 expenditure and risk adjusted strategy presentation late this evening. These presentations were not submitted with the other documents received yesterday. There are also new separate presentations from the provincial Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Education (DOE). He felt that it was unfair to expect Members to engage with these presentations. The parliamentary rule is that comments must be sent within 24 hours before the time of the meeting. The province did not comply with this rule. In an ideal functioning environment, this meeting would be postponed but Members took it upon themselves to work under difficult circumstances. The first agenda item will be the briefing on the report of the Covid-19 response plans. This report covers a number of important interventions to address the challenges resulting from the outbreak of the pandemic in the North West. There is one critical element missing from the report and that relates to the details on the Covid-19 related procurement. This comment has only been sent to Members now. Procurement is a topical issue and the Public Finance Management Act is clear about the maintenance of an appropriate procurement system which is fair, transparent and cost-effective. Members learnt from the report that the Provincial Command Council briefed the media on Covid-19 expenditure on 17 August 2020. The province briefed the media on this matter but failed to provide the Committee with a report in time so that Members were able to engage with it. Fortunately, Members were pleased to find the detailed Covid-19 Procurement Disclosure Report on the province's website. Members were able to download and peruse it. This is the first time a detailed Covid-19 Procurement Disclosure Report was published. The Premier and his team are commended for doing so and it's hoped that other provinces will do the same.
The Chairperson said that Members are aware that the province's internal audit Covid-19 procurement report will be available at the end of the month. The Premier is on record at the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) concerning the procurement of Covid-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and medical supplies in the North West. The Committee would like to see this kind of action in all of the provinces and commends the Premier for showing commitment to the investigation of all procurement of PPE's and medical supplies. The second agenda item is the briefing by the Minister of the National Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) on the intervention in the North West in terms of Section 100 of the Constitution. The Minister has written to the Committee to inform members that the national Department is still in the process of compiling a detailed report which must be tabled in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and thereafter it can be presented to the Committee. The provincial department will brief Members on the Section 139 intervention. The National Department informed Members that provinces are found wanting. The Committee is concerned about the municipalities that are taken through the Section 139 process. It has a fiduciary duty to conduct oversight on all matters that relate to the provisions of the Disaster Management Act (DMA) and cooperative governance related matters. It must perform oversight over COGTA and all of its entities reporting to it. The issue raised by the Minister will be tabled and Members will wait for the date of the briefing. She then handed over to the Premier to begin the presentation.
Briefing by the Premier
Mr Job Mokgoro, North West Premier, greeted Members and said that the North West provincial government appreciates the opportunity to present before the Committee. He apologised for the manner in which the reports were submitted. The Office of the Premier only stumbled on this matter yesterday and there was no direct invitation. The broad overview will respond to the following two critical questions: ‘what is the province doing’ and ‘how will it embark on a strategy that involves the possibility of a second surge’. South Africa is ranked fifth in the world and the infection cases are around 600 000. There is general consensus among medical science experts that a vaccine is guaranteed to defeat the virus but it may only be available at the end of 2021. Known pharmaceutical interventions remain the effective weapon to stop the infection. South Africa has followed the World Health Organisation's advice to ease restrictions only under the conditions of a reduction in infections. It's very important to tightly manage infections alongside the announcement made by the President to move to Level 2. There has been a consistent decline in daily infections in the last two weeks and therefore the lifting of restrictions hasn't led to an uptake in infections. The country is performing reasonably well in terms of the trend. Experts have warned against complacency and the mistaken belief that the virus is no longer around. As restrictions are eased there are dangers of social distancing fatigue because people do not take the restriction measures seriously. There is a potential risk of a cluster outbreak at workplaces. There is also a danger of lowering treatment deficiencies within the public health system.
The Premier said that in the North West specifically, the youth pose a high risk because of increased opportunity for social conduct through gatherings that do not comply with the regulations. A doctor has warned that the virus could pose a serious risk for the health of younger people across the board. The lifting of restrictions in the tourism sector and interprovincial movement is welcomed but it remains part of the potential risk. Everyone needs to work hard to avoid the risk of returning to the levels of infections seen in the early days of the pandemic. The North West provincial government remains focused on its mitigation plans and maintaining existing prevention methods. It has decided to launch a massive community education programme to ensure the battle against the virus is fought and won by everyone. It is launching a youth sectoral campaign directed at places where youth social activities take place such as campuses. In September, a comprehensive risk adjusted tourism promotion campaign underpinned by safety and compliance will be launched. The provincial government has started to review its initial models to ensure the easing of restrictions does not blunt its capacity to respond effectively, especially in the case of a second surge. Through the improvement of existing health infrastructure, the public health facilities will continue to improve its capability to act fast in testing, tracking and reaching cases in hotspot areas.
The Premier said that the North West provincial government is considering possible community testing within its available resources in hotspot areas where numbers have remained unsatisfactorily high. It continues with the implementation of preventative measures in communities, schools, businesses and government offices. The failure to do so can influence the trajectory of a second wave of infections. It is also evaluating its frontline response capacity by asking critical questions such as whether the PPE stock is compliant and whether there are enough health care personnel. A professor has said that there is a theoretical possibility of a surge in infection cases but that it was difficult to predict when a second wave may occur. It all depends on how people behave. People must not become complacent in maintaining prevention measures such as social distancing, wearing masks and hand hygiene. These are the things that have to be managed. A critical aspect of the Covid-19 public policy is to manage behaviour and this is different to other public policy areas. It is critical for the North West Provincial Government to build its capacity to focus on the ability to engage with communities. It must come up with effective and realistic communication campaigns that target various subgroups such as young people, governmental departments, businesses and communities. It continues to intensify its efforts to prevent a second surge.
The Chairperson thanked the Premier and asked for the various provincial departments to begin their presentations.
Briefing by the North West Department of Health
Mr Madoda Sambatha, North West MEC for Health, said that there is a possibility of a second surge but this should be balanced with team work readiness and availability of extra beds. When a response plan is made it must plan for something that may or may not happen. The emphasis is now on reviewing field hospitals. The focus is on infrastructure availability and readiness in case there is a second surge. The provincial department must be able to respond in terms of bed capacity and availability. The programme to manufacture ventilators is led by the Department of Science and Technology, namely the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The CSIR has to respond to smaller provinces because ventilators are not only needed for Covid-19. The province will still need them post-Covid-19. The manufacturing and distribution of ventilators has to be geared towards provinces that have a sizeable number of Covid-19 patients. South Africa as a whole has to be pushed towards strengthening health promotion. Part of the problem lies with community behaviour. The spread of infections is on the basis of behaviour because South Africans only remember to wear a mask or social distance when they see a government official, so it is not necessarily for them. They are not geared towards health promotion and the nation has to work on its behaviour towards health. The working relationship between the health sector unions and various departments of health across the country is important. It is important for the availability of PPE's, functionality of occupational health and safety committees and resolving challenges of travelling workers. When dealing with a response plan, there are often pending issues that have not been resolved yet. There needs to be a strengthening of the relationship between the departments of Health and National Education and the Health and the Allied Workers' Union (NEHAWU).
Briefing by the North West Department of Education
Ms Maphefo Matsemela, North West MEC for Education, said that there are various issues impeding the implementation of the curriculum in schools. A number of communities across the province do not have access to water. This on its own is having a negative impact on schools as a whole. During a workshop held on Friday, the provincial department agreed that it must start to build schools on serviced land that has electricity and water pipes. A number of people who are part of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) interrupted the running of schools. Before the break in August, there was a situation but the police assisted and a number of them were arrested. In the workshop held on Friday it was also agreed that the implementation of security in schools must be a high priority moving forward. On implementing the curriculum through Information and Communications Technology (ICT), some of the learners in schools in rural areas do not have access to Wi-Fi. Those learners may be left behind while other schools have already started with their third term because they have the necessary infrastructure to teach their learners through ICT during the lockdown. Not all learners can be brought back to school at the same time. The provincial department has opted for differentiated timetabling. This means that all of the grades, excluding grade 7 and 12, will follow the differentiated timetable. Screeners and cleaners have been provided for every school. The provincial department is currently busy with the provision of additional teachers and substitute teachers. Schools that are based on the grant will be the focus so that they can be renovated.
Briefing by the North West Department of Social Development
Ms Boitumelo Moiloa, North West MEC for Social Development, said that the North West Provincial Disaster Management Centre (DMC) was established in line with the DMA. The Centre facilitates support and monitors the implementation of the disaster management system at various departments and municipality levels. The Provincial Disaster Management Advisory Forum has also been established and is fully functional with a diverse representation of various stakeholders. The disaster management plan is in place and has been shared with the relevant authorities. There are also community structures in place. Kgetleng Rivier is the only municipality without a Centre. The challenges in other municipalities consist of inadequate support for the Centre because of a shortage of staff. On gender-based violence (GBV), the White Doors and Crisis Centres have been established to support communities. The challenge is that cases are being reported to the police or law enforcement agencies and it takes a long time for them to be concluded. Despite the establishment of the Crisis Centres to assist communities, it takes a long time for cases to be processed by law enforcement agencies. Sometimes communities do not come forward to report cases until it is too late. The provincial department has embarked on educating communities to raise their issues on time. During lockdown Level 5 many people were in dire need of food. It was a challenge to assist everyone. Everyone has to be screened and verified first before they can receive social relief from distress (SRD). There is also a budget challenge because the government is not able to cater for everyone. Donations were received and assisted with this. Everyone who donated is listed on the donation register. People complained that the department took a long time to provide SRD's but this is mainly because everyone had to be verified and profiled first.
Briefing by the North West Provincial Treasury
Ms Motlalepula Rosho, North West MEC for Finance, said that there have been engagements with the Provincial Audit Committee to make sure that there is correct expenditure on PPE. This process started long before it was actually declared at national level. The engagements require the audit committee to provide resolutions. Internal committees have also been met with. They must follow through all the procurement PPE's and Covid-19 expenditure. There will be a meeting with the Auditor-General (AG) tomorrow who will provide feedback in terms of the Covid-19 response expenditure report. There is a consolidation of reports for each department. There is also an analysis in terms of expenditure and whether it has been in line. The instruction by the National Treasury (NT) has now been withdrawn and the provincial department is getting back to normal procurement compliance. In the past five months systems have been put in place to ensure that there is following through on procurement. The AG report as well as the Internal Audit Report will cover that response. The publication will be launched with the Committee as it has been requested. This was the first publication. The second publication will be done from time to time and will also be lodged with the Committee.
Briefing by the North West Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
Premier Mokgoro said that throughout the country it was widely known that there are no concerns around Section 139 as a constitutional provision but the problem has been the implementation of it.
Mr Phihadu Motoko, Head of Department, North West COGTA, said that municipalities in general are in dire conditions and are found waiting when it comes to fulfilling their constitutional mandate. As a result, there have been interventions over the years. A number of problems remain at the forefront of government's developmental challenges. These problems include service delivery backlogs where municipalities are not budgeting for the establishment, maintenance and operation of infrastructure when it comes to water and sanitation. It costs billions to establish infrastructure but nothing is left for the maintenance and operation budget which creates a crisis for communities. There is distance between municipalities and their communities because there is poor communication and no accountability relationships. Communities decide to take it to the streets. Allegations of corruption and fraud are not being investigated. A total of 13 municipalities have been placed under administration in terms of Section 139(1) (b) and (c) of the Constitution. In Kagisano Molopo, the administration was challenged. The province lost the case against the municipality who argued that the province was under Section 100 of the Constitution and had no authority to place it under Section 139. This case is being reviewed and the province is waiting for the court date.
Mr Motoko said that that intervention did not run its course in other municipalities due to the ongoing fight between itself and the administrator. In Mamusa, the council was dissolved and a new council was elected in January. When the province tries to intervene, the intervention is challenged in courts of law and there is a new debate that only Section 139(1) (c) requires an administrator. It is not explicit in the Constitution whether Section 139(1) (b) also requires this. The total amount spent on interventions over the last three years is R35 million. There should be national regulations to support the invocation of Section 139(1) (b) because there is no guidance and the legislation is silent on the administrator issue. Other means must also be found to intervene in municipalities without invoking Section 139(1) (b). More powers might need to be given to MECs because in most instances they do not have full powers to reprimand and oblige councils to do things. Municipalities think they have a choice to implement or not to implement the close-out reports. National regulations will force municipalities to implement what is contained in these reports. There must also be processes in place to ensure that only individuals with impeccable credentials are employed in the intervention teams.
Mr C Brink (DA) said that it was good to see the Premier in good health and fully recovered from Covid-19. On the interventions, it was evident that the North West, as far as municipal services and good government is concerned, is a wasteland. There can be very little argument about that. There are unfunded budgets in Mafikeng, Ratlou, Kagisano Molopo, Madibeng, Mamusa, Moses Kotane and Moretele. These municipalities have lost money in VBS unqualified audit disclaimers and there are record numbers of fruitless, wasteful and unauthorised expenditure. How is the Covid-19 expenditure looking? The municipalities are in a very bad state and the interventions do not work. It was mentioned that one of the municipalities is under its fifth belt of administration and it was only getting worse. It cannot only be based on the vagueness of Section 139 and the failure of national government to bring forth intervention legislation. During the course of 2018 and 2019, large parts of the North West provincial government was placed under national administration and this included the Office of the Premier, DOE, DOH and intervention was even exercised in the local COGTA Department. All of these departments were either placed under control of the national government in terms of Section 100(1) (b) or issued directives in terms of Section 100(1) (a). He said he has asked the Minister about the state of intervention by national government in September last year in a parliamentary question. This was question 128 of 2019. At that stage, the Minister said that the Premier's office was still under Section 100(1)(b) together with the DOE, the DOH and COGTA was under 100(1)(a). If the province is dysfunctional then it was in no position to sort out dysfunctional municipalities in terms of Section 139. The answer from the Minister read out at the beginning of the meeting by the Chairperson is very disappointing. In September 2019, the Minister had already promised that a detailed report in respect of the Section 100 intervention would be served in the NCOP. According to colleagues in the NCOP, that report was never served. It was almost a year after the Minister said she would do so. Members are still sitting with the same excuse and it is unacceptable. Can the Minister or Deputy Ministers account for this? Members cannot proceed to interrogate dysfunctional municipalities if they do not understand what national government has achieved in a dysfunctional provincial government.
Mr Brink said that the North West has the highest failure rate of interventions in the country. No other province beats the North West in terms of unsuccessful Section 139 belts of administration. Can the Premier tell Members how the province appoints its administrators? The presentation indicated that there might be a problem with the quality of administrators. To acknowledge this now is one thing but what have you done about the quality of administrators you send to take charge of municipalities? Surely the quality issue is taken into account before the appointment. ‘What are the qualification levels of administrators or are they just recycled ex-politicians’? This is a very serious question. ‘It is one thing to blame the national legislation but what have you done as a province to improve the success rate and look at the quality of the people that you send for interventions’? ‘Does national COGTA have someone here tonight responsible for overseeing interventions in the North West’? Members would like to know what support is given to the province and if in fact the problem lies with the province or lies elsewhere in terms of the high failure rate.
Ms H Mkhaliphi (EFF) welcomed the Premier and said that she is grateful he survived Covid-19. When news broke out that the Premier tested positive for Covid-19, it was reported that he was hospitalized outside the North West. ‘Is this true and if so what is the reason for not being treated in your own province’? The Premier is supposed to lead by example and make sure that the health infrastructure is proper for the entire population. ‘Why did you opt to get help outside the North Wes’? The Premier is on record at the SIU to investigate all Covid-19 procurement on PPE's and medical supplies. ‘Does this invitation suggest there is corruption in the province’? ‘Has the SIU descended to the North West’? ‘Can you clarify which companies benefitted from PPE procurement’? There were among 21 companies shortlisted but they do not appear on the Company and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) as registered companies. The Premier is very brave to make a call to the SIU and all leaders should do so. ‘In order to take your citizens in confidence can you make sure you mention those companies’? There are students who were withdrawn by Denel due to non-payment. The Denel programme is very good to intervene in the issue of unemployment. ‘Why were those students withdrawn from the programme and how was it resolved’? ‘Where are those students now’? ‘Are they still at home after the programme failed’? On health, there are concerns about the shortage of PPE's in most of the facilities as well as the shortage of medication such as immunization and epileptic treatment in the whole province. In two clinics, there is no backup power so when there is no electricity, the clinics do not function. In the famous Mafikeng provincial hospital, it is reported that there is a shortage of staff and collapsed infrastructure. Members know about this hospital through the media where it has been exposed that people sleep on the floor. ‘Can Members receive feedback on whether this situation has improved’? Thusong hospital has also reported lack of infrastructure and poor hygiene inside and outside.
Ms Mkhaliphi said that the presentation indicates there is a high number of GBV cases in one of the districts. This is a cause of concern for the country as a whole. ‘Can you elaborate on the intervention being used to combat it’? There's a pregnant woman who passed away as a result of Covid-19. ‘Is it true that she came to work and contracted the virus and passed away’? ‘Can clarity be provided on the Information Technology (IT) company known as Oram’? It was reported that the DOH used the company but it did not meet the standard of a tender and deviations were used. ‘On the people who were suspended on allegations of issuing a tender of security fraudulently, how far is this case’? It is a very old case. ‘Who are those people who are being disciplined’? ‘Is it any political person in charge or is it just ordinary workers’? ‘Can the department respond to this and elaborate on it’? There is a clinic that is still using a pit toilet in this day and age and its being shared by the staff and patients. 'Can this be elaborated on’? On education, it is reported that a primary school has damaged toilets, no electricity and no ceiling. ‘What is the plan to ensure learners receive education under normal conditions’? There is also a high school that is reported to be in a bad condition with no PPE or textbooks but the company used is not listed in CIPC and is benefitting from the DOE.
Ms P Xaba-Ntshaba (ANC) congratulated the Premier for fighting Covid-19. There are so many Covid-19 hotspots in the North West. ‘What is happening’? ‘Is there not enough PPE to prevent this pandemic'? The presentation indicated that people are not wearing masks and this might be the reason for the infection rates. ‘If the province has law enforcement, why are you not enforcing the law to make people respect it’? ‘People do not wear masks because they do not want to’. ‘They must adhere to the regulations’. The presentation also indicated that there is no water and sanitation at schools and schools are broken. COSAS is a leader of school students. ‘Are you expecting them to just keep quiet when there is no water at schools but schools are being reopened’? They are the leaders of students and must strive for their rights if there is no water at schools. ‘What must happen in schools when the pandemic requires all of us to wash our hands regularly’? ‘Why is the fraud and corruption in municipalities not being investigated’? In Madibeng, there is a problem of water and sanitation. The presentation indicated that the municipal manager (MM) was chased for this but the municipality is worse off now. ‘Can you come clean and tell us what is happening’? ‘Why would a municipality be worse off after you've chased the MM’? ‘Who is the service provider of water and sanitation in the North West’?
Ms Xaba-Ntshaba said that all of this is happening under the Premier's watch and supervision. ‘Can the Premier come clean and tell us what is happening and why’? ‘On the looting in Madibeng, how do you defend R9 million per month being spent on rental cars? The position of this municipality is getting worse every day. Counsellors do not pay for services. ‘Spending R35 million on interventions is fruitless expenditure because there is no result’. ‘Why are you not dissolving the municipalities because the interventions do not work? ‘You should use Section 139(1) (c) and send all the councilors home who do not want to work’. ‘Premier, why are you so quiet when things are getting worse every day’? ‘Why do you not collapse the municipalities and start fresh’? ‘You should take over and make sure everything is in order’. ‘People of the North West must get services’. ‘There was R1 billion that was just written off’. ‘When are you going to work thoroughly to prevent losing money’? ‘If people do not have water in schools, what are you expecting’? ‘As a leader in the provincial government, what are you expecting’? ‘Why are you quiet as if everything is in order’? Water is life. People will die if they do not continuously have water. As we approach summer, the North West is very hot. ‘What will happen to the people and the children who must go to school’?
Mr I Groenewald (FF+) said that the Premier stated in a sitting on 25 June that placing municipalities under administration as an intervention to better service delivery and combat corruption has failed and instead has created an environment for corrupt activities. The Premier further stated that the administrators employed to assist in the problems created more problems. Section 139 creates an environment where ANC factions can have a power play to decide which entrepreneur gets the contract. ‘If that is the case, how many charges have been opened against the administrators or what remedial or consequence management was taken’? ‘The North West is known for the corruption scandal in the health department that led to the lack of availability of medicine in the province’. ‘What consequence management was taken’? ‘After more than two years, who has been arrested’? There were emergency procurement processes that led to corruption and fraud in the municipalities. JB Marks municipality is an example that procured 20 000 boxes of a quantity of a hundred shoe covers each and procured 8000 face shields but only have 2120 employees. ‘What steps are being taken to ensure that taxpayer’s money is being spent with a value in return’? Municipalities use money earmarked for infrastructure development for further corruption. As an example, Matlosana and JB Marks spent millions on recreational centres but within inspection no evidence could be found for the money that was spent. At the Sarafina Stadium in JB Marks, only a toilet could have been found for the R45 million spent. The sewerage plant at Rooigrond was initially budgeted for R25 million but more than R90 million was spent. ‘What steps have been taken to stop corruption of tender entrepreneurs and collusion’? The AG's report indicates that municipalities do not comply with legislation. Matlosana paid more than R90 000 for six counsellors to stay in a guesthouse since September 2019. Most municipalities see legislation as guide and not something to adhere to. They do not adhere to small things like not keeping minutes of portfolio committees, mayors not reporting to council, council meetings that do not take place timeously, not taking consequence management, counsellors having illegal water connections and tender entrepreneurs colluding with mayors and senior staff. ‘What measures will be taken so that compliance is met strictly with legislation’? Everyone knows the case in Kgetleng Rivier where members of the public died trying to unblock drains, baboons that died in the water reservoir and shortages of water in Krugersdorp that is without electricity for days on a weekly basis. ‘What steps are you taking to ensure service delivery in these municipalities’?
Mr Groenewald said that a municipality had a forensic investigation called the Waters Report that addressed the irregularities on the appointed administrator at that time. That report just disappeared. ‘Can it be provided to the Committee’? ‘On the turnaround strategies for maintaining road infrastructure, does the province still adhere to this strategy and if so, what is the progress’? The national and economic route in the province is being maintained but when those routes go through municipalities you cannot drive on them. The N12 is the economic vain of the province but the whole stretch of it from Matlosana to Maquassi Hills is not maintained. ‘What steps have you taken to ensure accessibility for investors in these municipalities especially of the town along the N12 route’? The road in Maquassi Hills is not drivable. ‘This is the responsibility of the municipality but what is the province doing to ensure the roads are being fixed’? ‘On audit hearings, will you investigate a real-time audit system where all transactions and supporting documents are handled in a digitized environment to curb corruption and assist the AG’? ‘Municipalities have all the necessary help, from consultants to administrators yet the situation worsens’. There was a mayor for a day in one of the municipalities and people are being threatened with their lives. ‘What is the Premier doing to clean up the province’? The political fighting in the province is detrimental to the economy. ‘There is not one department that does not have corruption. They need to be cleaned of this cancer.’ The public demands arrests and actions that are visible.
Mr K Ceza (EFF) said that he remains very baffled about the interventions. In Madibeng, whenever an administrator cannot fulfil his duties, he is removed and replaced. This has been happening more than five times. Is this deliberate? It looks as if municipalities will forever be under administration because of patronage. It cannot be correct to say that the administrator was removed because he could not fulfil his duties. Those are five different people. It cannot be the same error each time. ‘Surely you must be appointing someone who is actually reliable’? ‘Did the previous administrator submit an exit report and what did the report recommend’? ‘Why did you not take the municipality under Section 139(1) (c) instead of it being stuck under Section 139(1) (b)’? ‘How long is this expected to exist and how long should an administrator be in place’? It raises suspicion to use the extensions all the time. ‘Will the municipalities ever resolve the issue of being under administration’? ‘There is a gross violation of human rights in an informal settlement where residents have to cross the N18 to relieve themselves in the bush because there is no running water or sanitation’. ‘What actions have you taken to resolve this situation’? One municipality has been having problems over a period of 3 weeks now and another has allegations of corruption and financial mismanagement. ‘What engagements and actions have you taken to ensure there is provision of water and sanitation and that those who are implicated are charged with immediate effect’?
Mr Ceza said that MEC Sambatha spoke about community behaviour towards Covid-19. Public representatives have a role to play in influencing how people behave. ‘If Covid-19 money is stolen by government representatives, how can we expect people to behave’? There is a pull-down syndrome in the tendering system where people's expectations are raised and they kill someone for the tender. There needs to be a shift to ensure the values instilled in society are different from what is actually happening now. There will never be a change in the circumstances under these conditions. The government has put society against themselves in terms of economic privileges. The reason for the behavioural patterns is because people do not have material conditions that favour them. When MEC Sambatha talks about behaviour, he talks down to people and does not bring about solutions to actually remedy the situation and instill new values. ‘What public awareness campaigns have you embarked on in rural communities’? ‘On education, how many schools have pit toilets in the province? What urgent action has been taken to resolve the lack of proper flushing toilets in schools in order to restore dignity and assist in fighting Covid-19’? In Madibeng, there's no water, roads or food. ‘How do you take a state resource and campaign with it’? ‘How do you not rise above and understand that the resources are from the state and not from the political party’? ‘What monitoring systems do you have in place to ensure that everyone is covered in the provision of food and water’? The community has complained over and over again about this. There's a village which has not had water for quite some time. A community member has complained about a running stomach and pains in the waist. ‘What have you done to ensure villages have boreholes that are functional’? The boreholes are dry for weeks. Data provided by the Department of Human Settlements in 2018 showed that almost R3 billion has been spent in the eradication of the bucket toilet system in four provinces with the biggest backlog. ‘What backlog did you have and how much money was spent towards the eradication of the bucket system’?
Ms Mkhaliphi said that the Committee is meeting with a province that is under administration and expecting the very same people to give directions to the challenges that the province is facing. During the State of the Province Address (SOPA), Members stood up and asked for clarification on the powers of the North West province since it was under administration. Security guards were unleashed and Members were beaten up. ‘Premier, why did you opt to beat up elected representatives of the legislature for questioning the status quo’? The presentation on Section 139 is a cause of concern for everyone. Why were security guards called when Members were seeking clarity on it? ‘How does the province function under administration’? None of the municipalities are functioning well and there is no service delivery meaning that the poorest of the poor are suffering. ‘Why do you keep pushing the idea of interventions when it doesn’t help anyone’? The Committee must call on COGTA and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) because Members need answers. ‘What are the requirements of the skills and qualifications of administrators that intervene in municipalities’? ‘What are the qualifications of the senior management of the provincial COGTA’? Section 139 is the popular constitutional provision used to appoint administrators when intervention is needed but all the municipalities placed under this Section are worse off than before. In JB Marks, it was reported that the procedures were not followed and the issue was taken to court. In Maquassi Hills, there was a fight between the administrator and the MM when it comes to the senior positions that need to be filled. The ANC dynamics are the source of the municipal collapses and corruption. The Committee does not hear the Premier talking tough on corruption in general.
Mr Brink said that Ms G Opperman (DA) is having connection issues and asked him to raise questions on her behalf. ‘What are the financial implications for teachers who have been booked off for the Covid-19 period’? ‘How much has the decontamination of schools cost for the DOE’? ‘Have the employees of state departments who work from home due to comorbidities been supplied with the necessary tools of trade and resources to work from home’? What is the cost of this? ‘How many PPE procurement-related cases are under investigation for suspected irregularities’? ‘When will the province publish the full details of the Covid-19-related expenditure for public perusal? ‘How will this be done? It was mentioned that Section 139 intervention often happens too late and that this is the reason why it fails. ‘What prevents the MEC and Executive Council from intervening timeously’?
Ms Mkhaliphi said that both the provinces and the municipalities are under administration. She said that she was happy that the Chairperson wrote to the Minister because Members are owed an explanation on what is happening in the province. It cannot be business as usual. ‘How long is the province under administration’? ‘What are the timeframe and the terms of reference’? ‘Is anything improving’? This must be addressed by the Minister. The municipalities were put under administration to assist in Eskom debts, pension funds and service delivery but nothing has changed. Almost all of the municipalities are regressing. The Minister and national COGTA must tell Members what the way forward is.
Mr A Motswana (ANC; North West Provincial Legislature) said that he does not agree with how the implementation of Section 139 has been done. There should not be contestation between legislative members and executive members because Parliament must call them to account. It was not entirely true that certain issues happened in the municipality. The administrator has put forward information that contradicts what was presented to the Committee tonight. Members must be given clarity on why there is an intervention in the province under Section 100. There is nothing preventing the province from intervening in municipalities in the wrong away. Despite the fact that there are challenges, it is wrong for the provincial department to intervene by violating legislation governing local government. The terms of reference were in contravention with the Municipal Act, Municipal Finance Management Act and the Constitution. The province nonetheless continued despite the fact that Members indicated to them that the implementation of the intervention was done in the wrong way. The provincial government knew it was contravening the legislation. The terms of reference provided for the administrator to assume the bank accounts of the municipality. These administrators are not vetted or screened and municipalities are not given their credentials. Even in cases where they had previous records of fraud they were still allowed to assume the bank accounts of municipalities.
Mr Motswana said that the narrative is contrary to what is being presented here tonight. An example, of which the AG can confirm, is where there was R1.5 billion of fruitless expenditure. On inspection, no one could find where the money was spent but the municipality did not accept intervention. In Rustenburg, there was wasteful expenditure but the municipality also did not attract intervention. There are a number of cases where gangsters are disrupting municipal operations but the municipality does not accept intervention. Intervention in the North West becomes selective and one wonders what the province is protecting in a municipality. The province is governed in terms of two separate laws. On water and sanitation, some municipalities are given powers and others withhold it to the executive. That was why municipalities spent money as if they were not responsible. It is wrong to blame local municipalities for services of water and sanitation when they are not receiving money for it. Corruption in the North West has colour. In JB Marks, the municipality spent millions but it could not be accounted for. That case was reported and the SIU acted within days but in another case of R93 million that was reported, Members are still yet to see action being taken. The situation is being manufactured. It is not value for money yet the Department wants Members to believe that if the interventions are removed, things will fall apart. The province is not benefitting from the appropriated budget. Money has been lost and it is not in the best interest to pursue with Section 100.
The Chairperson said that when Members were sworn into the Committee, a report was received indicating that the North West has one of the best disaster management systems. Members appreciate that the province has established the DMC which does not match any in the country. However, there is still a need to capacitate it in terms of personnel in order for it to be effective. The North West is the only province that has been spending a disaster grant so well. Members are excited that the province takes this matter and the DMA seriously. The province is rich in minerals and the tourism industry. This needs to come out clearly to inspire confidence given the negative economic impact of Covid-19. This strategy can only thrive in an environment of sustainable municipalities and intolerance towards acts of corruption. ‘What is the protocol in place to address post-Covid-19 economic recovery? Section 38 of the DMA requires a health disaster management plan. ‘Do you have one so that you can cater for issues like infrastructure and medicine’? ‘If the plan is available can it be provided to Members’? The Committee appreciates the strides made towards building infrastructure. ‘What do you consider to be the possible triggers of the expected second surge’? ‘What are you doing to prevent it’?
The Chairperson said that drought risk management is key in containing Covid-19 in the province. ‘What are the provincial multi-sectoral drought risk strategies and plans, especially in hotspots such as Mamusa’? ‘What funding do you have for these interventions’? ‘Can you share the plans with the Committee’? ‘On Covid-19 expenditure, how does a litre of sanitiser cost R750’? ‘On interventions, Mr Motswana raised issues that are concerning. She said she was worried that interventions are not done in terms of the law. Section 139(1) (b) states that the province assumes responsibility to the extent that is necessary to maintain national standards for rendering services to prevent the municipal council from taking unreasonable action and to maintain unity and economy. Some municipalities have been under administration more than five times. ‘What is it that makes you put JB Marks under administration’? ‘Can you list the factors and provide the Committee with this information’? The other intervention was terminated due to a court decision. The outcome of the case cannot be predicted because the court may decide otherwise. ‘Does the province have the requisite capacity to deal with all the municipalities under administration’? National COGTA and SALGA have said that they did not receive the exit report, yet Madibeng was put under administration several times. The issue of selective intervention is concerning. Madibeng is losing money every financial year and administration is aggravating the situation. The AG is raising disclaimer over disclaimer. ‘Why can you not invoke Section 139(1) (c) once and for all instead of using Section 139(1) (b)’?
The Chairperson said that the Committee is going to ask the AG to do a detailed analysis of all of the municipalities. ‘If you put an administrator in Madibeng indefinitely then what becomes the role of the councilors’? ‘It's just duplication because you continue to pay salaries of people who are not doing anything’. ‘What are the applications that administrators resume in terms of preference for new administrators’? In some instances where an administrator arrives under Section 139(1) (b), he tells the mayor and everyone else to vacate the offices because of the terms of reference. In other cases, the administrator assumes responsibility and takes over the banking accounts of their municipality. ‘Does Section 139(1) (b) provide for that’? Municipalities must still be able to fulfil their personal mandate. The Committee must be provided with a detailed analysis and assessment of all of the municipalities under Section 139 including the status of implementation of the financial recovery plan. ‘In the report, you must identify the challenges, be informed by the AG's analysis and identify the most appropriate actions to address the challenges. Once you have an action plan, you can identify the most appropriate support mechanisms. You need a term plan so that municipalities do not regress two months later. If you apply interventions, it cannot be done selectively. The Section 139(1) (b) principles must apply the same across the board’.
Premier Mokgoro replied that the buck stops with the Premier and he takes full responsibility of the comments and criticisms raised by Members. There is a systemic challenge which is inherent in the Constitution. Section 139 and 100 are naked pieces of law because there is no enabling legislation to guide its implementation. On Section 139(1) (c) as a preferred alternative, the province has used this Section in a much smaller municipality. To illustrate by example, you have a farmer driving a wagon on a field. The farmer hears a squeaky noise and sees that there is something wrong with the joint around the wheels. He looks around in the field and finds a bottle of water to pour on the joint. The wagon starts moving but next time he hears the noise he uses the water again. Ultimately, he realises that there is so much rust that has accumulated from the reinforced behaviour of using water. This is how the province has approached the question of interventions in municipalities. It applies the same solution to different problems and expects a different outcome. The performance of Section 139 across the country is known. Section 100 has been imposed since 2018. There is no fault with the decision made by Cabinet and the policy but a lot needs to be done around the implementation mechanism. In addition to imposing Section 100 and the deployment of managers from Gauteng, the new Premier is appointed and expected to fix everything. How do you expect that to happen? He said that every time he takes a decision, he needs to get concurrence and permission which wastes a lot of time.
The Chairperson asked if the Premier cannot make any decision as it is.
Premier Mokgoro replied in the negative because he is under Section 100(1) (b). A number of decisions cannot be made without permission and the correspondence takes time. The officer under Section 100 does not even live in the North West. The province is prone to a lot of instability. Everyone needs to take a step back to figure out the implications of Section 139 and ask whether it was about leadership, management, culture or mindset. The political fighting and finances are bad but why are these things happening? There needs to be a national indaba to change and transform the mindset to solving problems. The municipalities will all collapse because of this mindset. On Covid-19, the labour force had to return to work and there are problems with congested areas such as informal settlements like Marikana in Rustenburg. There is a myriad of factors that contribute to the hotspot. A key factor is leadership. When the intervention was imposed, everyone knew the extent of instability but now the North West has become stable and quiet. This does not happen because of a magic wand but because of men and women who care about service delivery and spend nights working on it. On his experience with Covid-19, he went to a doctor in Mafikeng who referred him to a hospital in the same area. He was then referred to testing where three doctors referred him to a private hospital in the same area. An ambulance was summoned and he was put on a drip. His children all work in Johannesburg and requested him to be near them. On that basis, the doctors looked for a hospital that would attend to his health but also at a psychological level so that his family would be content. On Covid-19 expenditure, he took the report completed by the provincial treasury to the SIU. The report is based on facts drawn from the system, including item purchases, the amount spent and names of beneficiaries in terms of procurement. This information is raw and needs to be subjected to interpretation.
Premier Mokgoro replied that since the internal and external audit processes would take some time, the report was given to the SIU because the President had taken steps to beef up its capacity. On corruption, there was a vetting and cleaning up of corrupt practices. The scorpions were shut down and the Hawks was much weaker in terms of their capacity. There are a number of issues happening in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) which has led to the erosion of its capacity. The lockdown also altered the deployment of prosecutors. A competency that needs to be introduced in the public service is shaming. Many managers and leaders do not have a sense of shame especially when the poor suffer the most with lack of service delivery. The reason for approaching the SIU is because of the capacity gaps in the value chain. On Denel, it was found that senior management were not paying Denel since 2013. Some senior managers have gone out of their way to place various students at mines in the province so that they can finish their qualification but managers who do not care about the programme have led it to collapse. On Madibeng, there has been a huge difference in terms of stability. Departmental officials must be subjected and exposed to systems thinking. There needs to be a move away from spending millions on administrators because senior managers must participate in learning and development and deliver solutions to problems. On the road in Maquassi Hills, the fixing of the area is not happening at the pace Members would like. On water and sanitation in informal settlements, the problems have been exacerbated by Covid-19. There needs to be a revisit on the implementation of Section 100 so that the Premier can fix things without having his hands bound.
The Chairperson thanked the Premier for his honest reflection on Section 139 interventions. The Committee is on the same page. The problem does not lie with 'words' but with 'whom'. The issue is reconciling the Premier's views with the unsuccessful Section 139 interventions in the province. The Premier has admitted that they do not work and the Committee appreciates this honesty. Members are also on the same page in terms of Section 100 and its implications. The close-out report will demonstrate a lot. Members expect the Minister to deal with the issue so that administration can be lifted and the Premier can do what he needs to do.
Ms Jeanette Hunter, Administrator, North West DOH, replied that on infrastructure and staffing in Job Shimankana Tabane Provincial Hospital, the air conditioning systems in operating theatres have been fixed. The hospital was also experiencing space problems. Work was awarded in January to extend the ward and that has helped to make space for Covid-19. That additional space will be back when Covid-19 pandemic is behind us. When the administration arrived in 2018, the DOH had not filled any posts for more than four years. These posts included people who retired, resigned or were transferred. There was a total of 8000 vacancies. In June 2018, 4 000 posts were advertised. It was found that advertising so many posts caused a bottleneck in trying to fill them. There was consideration of using outside companies to help with the recruitment, shortlisting and interview process but the Department of Public Service and Administration regulations do not allow for this. In 2018/19, 4 000 posts were processed. Management posts were filled from within the Department and a lot of frontline worker posts such as nurses, doctors and pharmacists were also filled.
Ms Hunter replied that in Mafikeng Hospital, there has not been much of a difference in terms of infrastructure. Proper procurement processes have to be followed. The Department is about to start with space expansion. A number of vacant posts were filled including a large number of specialists in Orthopedics, general surgery and medicine. This shortened huge orthopedic backlogs at the hospital. On Thusong Hospital, the poor infrastructure is irreparable and the process of decommissioning the hospital is underway but additional space needs to be created first. On the pregnant woman issue, a report can be provided in writing to the Committee once her name is provided. On Oram company, there has been no business during Covid-19. It has been working in the Department for a couple of years already even before the administration came in. It does work on the central distribution of medicine and male medical circumcision. The issue of mismanagement leading to medicine shortage has been addressed by consequence management. Three senior managers have been suspended and are undergoing disciplinary matters.
Ms Mkhaliphi asked why the issue of the pregnant woman cannot be addressed now.
MEC Sambatha replied that it is not true that the pregnant woman was at work when she passed on. Her infection was a result of the conduct of a family member. Once she was self-quarantining she tested positive. On the use of the pit toilet in the clinic, it is not true and they are currently using a hired toilet. There was a process to construct new toilets in the clinic while they are using the hired toilet.
MEC Moiloa replied that the province has White Doors that deal with victims of GBV. The victims are accommodated there for three days and thereafter transferred to departmental facilities.
The Chairperson asked if it was the one at the police station.
MEC Moiloa replied that it was not the one at the police station. It was a newly elected White Door. There is also involvement from men as part of the campaign. There are boys' assemblies because young boys grow up and tend to be the perpetrators. The assemblies provide space to talk, show and teach them. Many have been neglected by their fathers and women end up raising the children alone. Since some of them do not even know who their fathers are, they tend to resort to drugs. The Department is involved in partnerships that provide mentorships to these boys. It was implementing the national strategic plan on GBV in communities and placing victims as change agents. Departmental empowerment programmes for women make sure they are able to stand up for themselves. During lockdown, the statistics were high but the Department was able to assist and house them. Women who became homeless were housed in the shelters and then transferred to the GBV facilities.
MEC Matsemela replied that Manana Primary School has electricity in all of the classes and the water and sanitation challenges have been resolved. On Bethel Secondary School, there is an impasse between parents and the school governing body because some parents did not want to pay the boarding fee. This matter has been solved and the school governing body has been assisted by the Department to get the money back owed by those parents. There are 1 561 public schools in the North West. During Covid-19, it was found that only 127 schools were without proper water. The Department has been working with the Department of Water and Sanitation to deliver tanks and once they were delivered, they were filled with water. A number of schools were broken. The Department stepped in to repair the schools when costs were R50 000 and above. Learners are being taught in properly repaired schools now. Where the costs were below R10 000, those schools were also fixed. COSAS was not fighting for water. There were a number of disruptions and the Department had to step in to deal with the matter. There is no registered company that does not have a clearance certificate. The list of companies was received from the Provincial Treasury. There are currently only 46 pit toilets but the Department is working on hiring flushable toilets to those schools. Contractors have been appointed to erect toilets.
Ms Mmamotho Semaswe, Superintendent-General, NW DOE, replied that the only company which appears on the list is the one mentioned by Ms Mkhaliphi. This company is registered on the central supplier database. It's a registered company of women in one of the townships.
MEC Rosho replied that the internal audit process is about to finalise the assessment of all the procurements. Once this process is complete and it's detected whether any other companies have been awarded tenders without being on the central supplier database, the Department will have a right to reply. The report will be shared with the Committee.
The Chairperson thanked the Premier and the delegation for their insights, knowledge and for being under the scrutiny of the Committee. The advantage of these interactions is that they raise pertinent issues. The intervention team will have to provide the Committee with the action plans, the status of implementation, details and analysis of assessments as well as those interventions that have been terminated. There must be appropriate support mechanisms and role players so that municipalities do not regress. The Committee is also going to ask the AG for financial reports on all of the municipalities under administration. The intention is to make the local government work and bring a sense of hope. South African citizens expect results from the collective leadership and that’s why accountability becomes critical. Some professionals have no shame in stealing from the poor and that’s why the Committee must hold them to account and improve the quality of services to the people. She thanked the Deputy Ministers for being in attendance and adjourned the meeting.
- NW Treasury: Report on Compliance by Madibeng Local Municipality &Support Provided by Provincial Treasury
- Notice of Invocation of Section 139(1) (B) Intervention of Constitution (RSA) In Ramotshere Moiloa, Tswaing, Madibeng and JB Marks Local Municipalities and Request for Concurrence
- NWPG: Implementation of Intergrated Risk Adjusted Preparedness and Response Plan: Covid 19
- Report on the State of Local Government in North West Province
Muthambi, Ms AF
Bapela, Mr KO
Brink, Mr C
Ceza, Mr K
Direko, Ms DR
Groenewald, Mr IM
Hadebe, Mr BM
Luthuli, Mr BN
Mkhaliphi, Ms HO
Opperman, Ms G
Tau, Mr MFP
Xaba-Ntshaba, Ms PP
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